Flowering fern / kamraj – nutrition, proven benefits and uses

flowering fern

The scientific name of the flowering fern is Helminthostachys zeylanica (Linn.) Hook. It is also known as Kamraj. It is known as Ru di wu gong in Chinese.

Other names include

INDONESIA: Rawu bekubang, jajalakan, pakis kaler.
MALAYSIA: Tunjok langit, akar paku, jelai.
THAILAND: Kut chong, tin nok yung, phak nok yung.
VIETNAM: S[aa]m d[aas]t, r[as]ng re[uf]ng gi[es], s[aa]m b[of]ng bong.

Flowering fern or kamraj is a herbaceous stipitate fern, growing a foot or more in moist ground. Rhizomes are short, thick, and creeping, Stipes are erect, 15 to 30 centimeters long. Fronds grow singly from the underground rhizomes, and the appearance is characteristic. Leaf blade spreads out almost horizontally, resembling an umbrella, hence the common name. It has three segments, each of which may be divided into two to five parts. Ultimate segments are 7 to 15 centimeters long, and 2 to 4 centimeters wide, and lanceolate. Mature leaves have a spike, 7 to 20 centimeters long, that extends upward from the leaf stalk, roughly following the latter in length. Upper portion of the spike contains the spores.


– In open bushy places near sea level, in moist ground, especially along the banks of streams.

– Often found in thickets, around bamboo clumps.

– New fronds usually initiated at the beginning of the rainy season.

– Occurs at low altitudes from India, Sri Lanka, China and Taiwan, throughout Southeast Asia to tropical Australia.


– Studies yielded stilbenes and flavonoids with antioxidant activities.

– Yields four flavonoids — ugonin A, B, C, and D, stigmasterol, fucosterol and dulcitol.

Medicinal Properties of flowering fern

– Expectorant, good antidote for snakebites, antiasthmatic.

– Considered aperient, aphrodisiac.

Parts utilized

· Rhizome.

· Wash and dry under the sun.

· Use rhizomes for propagation; preferably in shaded and moist area.


– Young leaves popular as salad vegetable.

Excellent source of phosphorus and iron; a fair source of calcium.

Folkloric traditional medicine benefits and uses 

· For coughing due to tuberculosis, asthma, poisonous snakebites: boil 6 to 10 grams dried drug in a cup of water and drink the decoction.

· For snakebites: crush the fresh plant and poultice the wound.

· For fractures and bone strengthening.

· Rhizome is chewed with betel for whooping cough.

· In India, used in Kerala for the treatment of hepatic disorders; rhizome also used for curing impotency; rhizome is chewed with areca for whooping cough.

· In Bangladesh, Khagrachari tribe use the plant to stop hemorrhages. Decoction of rhizome used in impotency. In Bandarban, root juice used with other plants for treatment of jaundice. Leaf Juice used for tongue blisters.

· In China, rhizome is used as antipyretic and antiphlogistic.

· In Malaysia, rhizome used as a tonic. Decoction of leaves used as tonic after childbirth. Rhizome mixed with Piper betel for cough and venereal diseases.

· In Java, used for dysentery, catarrh, phthisis.

· In the Moluccas, used to relieve constipation.

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of flowering fern or kamraj

Hepatoprotective/ protect liver:

Study of ethanolic extracts of rhizomes of HZ showed significant hepatoprotective effect against CCl4-induced damage liver damage in rats and presents scientific rational for its folkloric use in liver diseases.


Study yielded eight flavonoids, ugonins E-L (1-8) from the rhizomes of HZ. Compounds 6, 7 and 8 showed significant antioxidant activity.

Study yielded three new cyclized stilbenes, ugonstilbene A,. B and C which exhibited moderate antioxidant activity.

Neuroprotective/ protect nerve cells from injury or degeneration:

Study has isolated Ugonin K, a flavonoid from the rhizomes of H zeylanica. Results suggest ugonin K has neuroprotective activity through activation of ERK1/2 and PI3K?Akt signal pathways which protects against H2O2-induced apoptosis.

Anti-Inflammatory /  reduces pain, inflammation or swelling/ Flavonoids:

Study isolated 8 new prenylated flavonoids, ugonins M-T together with five known compounds, ugonins J−L (9−11), 5,4′-dihydroxy-4′′,4′′-dimethyl-5′′-methyl-5′′H-dihydrofurano[2′′,3′′:6,7]flavanone, and quercetin. Some compounds showed inhibition of superoxide anion generation and elastase release by human neutrophils in response to FMLP/CB.

Aphrodisiac/ stimulates sexual desire:

Administration of a methanol extract of H. zeylanica rhizome to male mice significantly stimulated the sexual behavior as shown by increase in number of mounts, mating and reproductive performance.

Antioxidant Flavonoids:

Eight flavonoids, ugonins E-L were isolated from the rhizomes of Helminthostachys zeylanica. Compounds 3-8 were evaluated for their antioxidative activity in a DPPH assay. Compounds 6,7 and 8 were more active than Trolox.

Ugonin J Flavonoid / Antioxidant:

Study isolated Ugonin J from the dried rhizomes of H. zeylanica. A previous study has shown antioxidant activity with Ugonin J, K, and L.

Cytotoxicity / Toxicity of Combinations:

Three plants — Tacca integrifolia, Helminthostachys zeylanica, and Eurycoma longifolia. All three were cytotoxic to human cell lines, Hep2 and HFL1. A combined extract of E. longifolia and H. zeylanica was more cytotoxic than a single extract on Hep2 cell line. Study suggests there is higher toxicity risk of consuming combination of H. zeylanica with either T. integrifolia or E. longifolia, and products using these combinations should be avoided.

Ugonin K Flavonoid / Promotion of Osteoblastic Differentiation and Mineralization:

Study showed a potential anabolic effect of ugonin K on bone probably through activation of p38- and ERK-mediated Runx2 and osterix expressions to induce synthesis of osteoids and formation of bone nodule.



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