Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Palhinhaea cernua (L.) Franco & Vasc.

Family Name: Lycopodiaceae
Synonyms: Lepidotis cernua, Lycopodium secundum, Huperzia cernua, Lycopodium capillaceum, Lycopodium heeschii, Lycopodium boryanum, Lycopodium cernuum, Lycopodiella cernua
Common Name: Scrambling Clubmoss, Rumput Kerangas, Paku Merak, Paku Selemah, Paku Tanjung, Paku Lumput, Remu Maunga, Nodding Clubmoss, Creeping Club Moss, Staghorn Clubmoss, Arching Clubmoss, Common Lycopodium, Monkey's Paws, Paku Serani, Rumput Serani, 过山龙, 筋骨草
Full Sun: 6-8h Lots of Water Native to Singapore Herb & Spice Coastal Ornamental Foliage ferns and allies Woody Creeper Herbaceous Creeper


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Allies (Non-Seed Vascular Plants) (Clubmoss & Spikemoss)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Herbaceous, Creeper, Trailing)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 0.6 m to 1 m


Native Distribution Throughout tropics & sub-topics, except driest areas
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Monsoon Forest, Coastal Forest, Riverine, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Common)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Terrestrial clubmoss -- a prehistoric fern-ally evolutionarily located between ferns and mosses, before flowering plants appeared on Earth, up to 1m in overall height.
Foliage Microphylls pale to bright green, linear, soft, small and needle-like (2-5mm long by 0.3mm wide), recurved, spiralling densely along aerial stems.
Stems Main stem stout, creeping indefinitely over ground surface and rooting horizontally at intervals. Aerial stems slender and slightly pendulous/ nodding at tips, arising vertically from main stem, each resembling a bristly bottlebrush, and branching compoundly to make plant look like a miniature pine tree.
Others - Plant Morphology Conservation Status: Native to Singapore, common in the wild.Fertile Sections: Strobili cone-like, up to 1cm long, resembling larger version of microphylls, borne singly at ends of aerial stems, containing tiny ovate to deltoid sporophylls (1.2 by 1.5 mm) filled with globose reproductive spores. Plant may remain fertile throughout year, or hibernate as buried stems during dry season, while the rest of the plant dies down.Phytoremediation: Can be used as sediment-filter and water-purifier in wetlands and semi-aquatic sites. Reported to be effective at removing toxic heavy metals like copper and lead from contaminated sites and abandoned mines.
Habitat Found at sunny fringes or open gaps of forests, in understorey layer of young secondary forests, amongst Adinandra belukar scrub vegetation, along marshy streams, in moist disturbed grassy areas and on cliff-faces, as well as on poorly-drained reclaimed land.
Cultivation Hardy plant, tolerant of most soil types, including infertile, waterlogged and saline soils. Prefers lots of moisture, keep sites well-watered to prevent plants from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Not known to be susceptible to any insect pest. Propagate by layering of growing tips, using rooted stems and spores. Prune back branching stems during transport and after transplanting to reduce transpiration loss.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Lycopodiella' is diminutive version of Lycopodium, meaning 'little wolf's foot', a reference to the stroboli and stem tips. Species epithet 'cernua' means 'nodding', describing the pendent shoot-tips.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( Rich in alkaloids, used in folk medicine in many parts of world. Whole plant crushed and applied as dressing to wounds in Rwanda. Plant decoction used as tonic, made into herbal tea to treat stomach ulcers, or used with herbaceous shrub Tristemma mauritianum to treat hypertension. Used to relieve arthritis, gout, skin irritations and dysentery in tropical America. Plant is filtered and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine against rheumatism, hepatitis and dysentery, as well as applied topically to bruises, scalds and burns. In Southeast Asia, whole plant used as lotion for beri-beri, asthma and coughs, while its ashes mixed with vinegar are used to make a medicated ointment that treats skin eruptions and abscesses.)
[Others]: Products: Used as flea repellent in Congo, and as cockroach repellent in Micronesia. In Gabon, dried plants used as cotton substitute to stuff cushions, and foliage used to filter palm wine or as water-purifier. Also made into baskets. Floriculture: Fresh and dried plants used in floral decorations, widely used to make funeral wreaths in 1950s to 1960s. Dried plant retains shape well, can be used as ornamental accent in floristry or made into attractive bookmarks. 

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Poor Infertile Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Acidic (low pH) Soils, Alkaline high pH Soils, Disease / Pest Resistant
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Phytoremediation (Ground / Water Contaminant(s)), Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Remarks Layering of growing tips, rooted sections, spores


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Modification Reduced / Needle-like
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Linear)
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Typical Foliar Area Nanophyll ( 0.25cm2 - 2.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Image Repository



Master ID 29440
Species ID 3749
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 21 September 2020.