Bird’s nest fern, also known as Asplenium nidus, A. ficifolium, Thamnopteris nidus, or Neottopteris rigida, is a type of fern commonly found in humid and shaded environments. This fern is also popular as an ornamental plant and goes by various local names, such as “kadaka,” “kedaka,” “lukut,” and others. It is quite common in Indonesia, and you can even find it at Ecolodge Bukit Lawang!
The natural habitat of A. nidus ferns includes both terrestrial and epiphytic growth on tree surfaces. They can be found at elevations ranging from 1,100 to 1,500 meters above sea level and thrive in the shade.
The Malesian region is the native home of this flora, and it has spread to various regions, including East Africa, India, and islands in the Pacific Ocean. Indonesia is one of the primary growth centers for bird’s nest ferns, with distribution spanning from Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi to Papua.
There is variation in the size of A. nidus ferns, with the smallest measuring only around 7 cm long and 3 cm wide, while the largest can reach 120-150 cm in length and 26-30 cm in width. Its single leaves typically range from 7 to 150 cm in length and 5 to 30 cm in width. The leaf edges appear flat with a wavy surface and are pale green with short stems. When viewed from the side, the leaf curls of A. nidus on the tree trunk do resemble a bird’s nest, which may be the reason behind its name.
Research on the benefits of A. nidus ferns is still limited in Indonesia. This plant contains active compounds with anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to improve blood circulation. Some sources mention that bird’s nest fern can be used as a hair tonic, fever reducer, headache reliever, contraceptive, and even as a remedy for bites or stings from venomous animals. However, it is advisable to consult with a doctor or expert before using it because further research is needed to understand its benefits and potential side effects.