Microsorum scolopendria is a fern that grows with fronds up to 1 meter in height. The fronds arise from black-scaly stems (rhizomes) that creep along the soil surface or grow on other plants as epiphytes. The fronds are erect and have up to 10 pairs of rounded lobes. The upper surface of the fertile frond is marked with one or more rows of circular bumps or "warts" on each side of the midrib. On the lower surface each of these "warts” are filled with a cluster of spore cases called sporangia.
(Palmer, D. D. 2003. Hawai`i's Ferns and Fern Allies)
Throughout the tropical Pacific, Microsorum scolopendria is used in traditional medicinal remedies. The crushed leaves of maile scented fern release a pleasing fragrance and are often used for adornment.
Although not native to Hawai`i, Laua`e haole has been adopted (hanai) by the modern Hawaiian culture. Apearently, Hawaiians in the 20th century used Microsorum scolopendria to replace the rare, fragrant and endemic Microsorum spectrum, which was used to provide a pleasant scent to tapa cloth. Today it is used to adorn hula altars and dancers.
(Krauss,B.H. 1993. Plants in Hawaiian Culture.)
(Fosberg, F.R. 1942. Uses of Hawaiian Ferns. American Fern Journal Vol 32: 5-23.)
This fern is found growing in the wild from Australia and New Caledonia to Fiji and eastward throughout the South Pacific as far as French Polynesia. It was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1910s and has subsequently naturalized rapidly. It is found on all main islands growing as a ground cover in the lower forests.
(Palmer, D. D. 2003. Hawai`i's Ferns and Fern Allies.)
We currently have 26 herbarium specimens for Microsorum scolopendria in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.