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Aroids and other genera in the Collection      Take the Tour Now?     Orchids

The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection
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Hemionitis arifolia (Burm. f.) T. Moore

Hemionitis arifolia (Burm. f.) T. Moore, Photo Copyright 2009, Steve Lucas,

Hemionitis arifolia (Burm. f.) T. Moore
Common names: Heart Fern, Tongue Fern 

Asplenium arifolium, Gymnogramma arifolia, Gymnogramma sagittata, Hemionitis cordata,
Hemionitis cordifolia, Hemionitis sagittata, Hemionitis toxotis

Identified to science in 1859, Hemionitis arifolia is an attractive and unusual dwarf fern primarily from Laos, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and possibly China, Taiwan and other nations in tropical Southeast Asia.  The fern is both an epiphyte (ep-a-FIT) and grows on trees as well as a terrestrial plant. 

In Asian folklore Hermionitis arifolia is used to treat diabetes  The fern has been medically evaluated for its hypoglycemic and anti-diabetic properties in rats.  Some of the extracts found in Hemionitis arifolia were actually found to lower the levels of blood glucose in sugar fed rats but only a small amount of the hypoglycemic activity in overnight fasted non-diabetic rats was seen.  It is unknown if there is a possible human use for the fern's extracts. 

In our magnified photograph you can observe this attractive fern has dark green cordate (heart shaped) fronds which grow on blackish stems with fronds that reach 5 to 7.5cm (2" to 3") in length.  The small dainty shade loving fern grows well in low light with high humidity.  Hemionitis arifolia also grows well as a terrarium plant or in a very shady area in an atrium.  The leathery heart-shaped fronds feature tall fertile frond leaves that spread above the fern's foliage.   Hemionitis arifolia is hardy in Zone 10 or higher and It can be grown in the lower portions of Florida outdoors.  Otherwise it must be grown indoors in a terrarium or in a greenhouse.  The fern reaches 15 to 20cm (6" to 8") in height.  This plant has numerous synonyms (same plant, other names) so you may find it available under a variety of names.