17 Mar2009

Creeping Ferns

by Marketman


Ferns, epiphytes, agricultural parasites? Sorry, I am not a plant person, so I don’t technically know what these beautiful green things surrounding the trunks of some century old acacia trees are. But they were stunning. They didn’t seem to thrive on all trees, but when they took a liking to a particular host, it could blanket the trunk from just above ground level to some 70+ feet in the air!


They appear to start of their lives or plant babyhood equivalent as creeping oval disks. I don’t think these need soil, as the vines or creepers didn’t seem to be rooted in the ground. Then as they cover every square inch of the trunk they start to “hang out” or off the trunk, presumably reaching for the sun or moisture or nutrients in the air…


I haven’t seen these much in Manila, though I did spot examples in Tagaytay recently… so I am guessing it needs clean air and a peaceful vibe to thrive.


It doesn’t seem like you can plant them either as they seem to grow only on trees that meet their particular requirements.


They seem to have these long “seed pods” but since I think they are more fern like in nature, spore pods more likely… and I suspect on a windy day they spread their spores and hope they catch on a neighboring tree where they can live and chismis for a few decades or so… :)

P.S. I know a few of my regular readers are botanists/plant enthusiasts, so please give us more accurate information if my flip description of these green beings is driving you nuts. Thanks.



  1. Rhea says:

    We have something similar to this on the 70+ year old mango tree in the front yard of our house there in Bacolod. There’s another kind with leaves as big as two feet across. It’s kinda nice to look at but an uncle said these are parasitic plants and would need to be stripped off the tree if we want the tree to live longer [don’t know if it’s true though]. I haven’t made the decision yet whether I want them taken off, but it’s beautiful to loook it, so I may put the decision off for at least a few weeks…

    Mar 17, 2009 | 3:56 pm


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  3. roelm says:

    Hi Rhea,
    Those epiphytes on your mango tree are probably not parasitic; they probably just use the tree to get the light they need and can’t get at ground level. They may even be benefiting the tree in some unknown fashion. So in case of doubt, don’t take them off.

    Of course, in the case of strangler figs (balite relatives), they also use the host tree to get to the light but they ultimately kill it by smothering it with their branches and roots.

    Mar 17, 2009 | 7:59 pm

  4. roelm says:

    Hi Marketman,
    There appear to be at least two types of plants growing on the tree. One appears fern-like and the other looks like some sort of flowering vine as it has seed pods. Ferns produce spores on their leaves and do not produce fruits.

    Mar 17, 2009 | 8:05 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    roelm, actually the “pods” appeared to have spores on the outside with no apparent seeds inside. The spore were similar to those on a large dapo fern…

    Mar 17, 2009 | 8:41 pm

  6. lyna says:

    you should come to Brunei. It is a common site in a lot of the trees here and they are beautiful at day but find it a bit creepy at night!

    Mar 17, 2009 | 8:42 pm

  7. jun says:

    This are quite common on acacia tree here in singapore…I see them on the trees even on the street sides as well as those in the parks and forest reserves. Fern and orchid like plants are also abundant on their trunks. The good thing about this acacia trees if you line them around is that they seem to always have that fog around which I always see in the early hours of morning or even after a brief rain shower at any time of the day. The national parks of singapore names the above as Pyrrosia piloselloides

    below links show more ferns and allies

    Mar 17, 2009 | 9:43 pm

  8. Maria Clara says:

    They relieve tired eyes. I like the fern ones that grows on matured acacia trees. I believe that is their natural habitat and thrive well.

    Mar 18, 2009 | 12:52 am

  9. jules winnfield says:

    i hope eventually someone from manila posts that they know where to buy some sprouts of these. they look really cool and i’d sure like to have them smothering my accacias.

    Mar 18, 2009 | 12:39 pm

  10. danney says:

    I like it. I think it will be a good covering to our concrete fences and change it to a green wall. Very refreshing look!!

    So here I am back onboard a cruise ship after spending nice vacation in my hometown Sta. Rosa, Laguna cruising Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Hawaii all the way to Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Alaska. I’m going on a food tripping in every city we are visiting and for sure I will look for Filipino restaurants.

    Mar 18, 2009 | 5:19 pm

  11. home economist lee says:

    plant babyhood… heeeheehee
    makes me want to squeeze their “cheeks”

    Mar 19, 2009 | 10:00 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    danney, I don’t think they will grow on concrete. They don’t even thrive on all trees…

    Mar 19, 2009 | 10:10 pm

  13. bernadette says:

    i have a particular dayap tree on which this particular plant grows on. I guess because of this pervasive plant on it, it won’t produce any fruit but the tree is very much alive. My husband pruned the tree once to its base hoping the plant won’t grow any more, but grow lush it did. Knowing that the particular spot is conducive to these kinds of plants, I would hang all the botanical orchids we have on this dayap tree—making it my rainforest christmas tree.

    Mar 20, 2009 | 8:58 am

  14. fern says:

    i didnt know that they are called creeping fern, thanks for the info MM

    Mar 22, 2009 | 12:51 pm


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