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Family Lycopodiaceae
Huperzia phlegmaria (L.) Rothm.

Ma wei shan

Scientific names Common names
Huperzia feejeensis (Luerss.) Holub. Tagigongai (Negros)
Huperzia phlegmaria (L.) Rothm. Tagolailai (Tagalog)
Huperzia simonii (Nessel.) Holub. Talironghai (Bisaya)
Lepidotis phlegmaria (L.) P.Beauv. Coarse tassel fern (Engl.)
Lycopodium filiforme Wall. ex Roxb. Common tassel fern (Engl.)
Lycopodium phlegmaria L. Philippine black stem tassel (Engl.)
Lycopodium phlegmaria var. longibracteatum Domin Queensland tassel fern (Engl., Aust.)
Lycopodium phlegmaria var. parviflorum Spring  
Phlegmariurus phlegmaria (L.) Holub  
Phlegmariurus phlegmaria var. laxosporophyllus Gias ex Pasha  
Urostachys phlegmaria (L.) Herter ex Nessel  
Huperzia phlegmaria (L.) Rothm. is accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CAMBODIA: Kompoi kmeng.
CHINA: Ma wei shan.
INDONESIA: Kumpai rantai, Kumpai rante, Kumpai pure.
THAILAND: Chong nang khli, Klet nakkharat, Yom doi.
VIETNAM: Reu cay.

Gen info
- Huperzia is a genus of lycophyte plants, sometimes called firmosses or fir clubmosses. It is a genus mired in taxon conflicts. The genus was originally included in the related genus Lycopodium. At present, Huperzia is one of three genera in the subfamily Hyperzioideae of the family Lycopodiaceae.
- The PPG I classification had 25 species in the genus Huperzia. As of January 2023, World Ferns listed 61 species, with many species "still needing transfer into other split genera. (3)

Huperzia phlegmaria is an epiphytic, repeatedly forked, pendulous herb, up to about 2 m long. Stem pendulous, (15-)40-80(-190) cm × 1-2.5(-5) mm, 1-4 times branching into two equal branches at irregular intervals, brown, dark and lustrous in the oldest parts, paler near the growing point, coarse. Leaves subdistant, slightly twisted, spirally whorled in 4-8 rows, spreading, subpetiolate; lamina triangular to ovate-lanceolate, 4-15(-30) mm × 2.5-7 mm, base rounded-truncate or cordate, margins entire, yellowish-green, coriaceous, midrib prominent. Strobili terminal, cylindrical, (1.5-)4-15 cm × 1-2 mm, distinctly demarcated from vegetative parts of the stem, repeatedly dichotomously branched; sporophylls in four rows, crowded to subdistant, appressed, ovate-subdeltoid, about 1.2 mm × 1.5 mm, entire, green, turning yellowish at maturity, only partly covering the sporangium; sporangium borne at the base of the sporophyll, reniform, deeply grooved, sessile. Spores triangular, trilete, 35 μm in diameter, bright yellow, granulated. (2)

Lycophytes, medium-sized. Stems caespitose, slender and pendulous, 4-6 times dichotomously branched, 20-40 cm, main stems ca. 3 mm in diam., stem together with leaves flat or nearly flat, not cordlike. Leaves conspicuously dimorphic. Trophophylls obliquely spreading, not lustrous, ovate-triangular, 5-10 × 3-5 mm, leathery, abaxially flat, midrib distinct, base cordate or subcordate, decurrent, conspicuously and shortly stipitate, margin entire, apex acuminate. Strobili terminal on branches, linear, 9-14 cm. Sporophylls sparsely arranged, ovate, ca. 1.2 × 1 mm, midrib distinct, margin entire, apex acute. Sporangia yellowish, reniform, vertically bisected. (Flora of China)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also native to Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Equatorial Guinea, Hainan, Himalaya, India, Japan, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Maluku, Nepal, New Guinea
, Queensland, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, etc. (1)
- In moist forest and rainforests at high altitudes, among mosses and other epiphytes.

- Study of aerial parts isolated two new abietane diterpenes, huperphlegmarin A-B (1-2), along with five known compounds including lycoxanthol (3), 21β-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl acetate (4), 21α-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl acetate (5), 21α-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-ol (6), and fawcettidine (7).  (see study below) (4)
- Study of aerial parts isolated two novel Lycopodium alkaloids, huperphegmine A and B (1 and 2), along with five known compounds lycophlegmariol A (3), phegmariurine B (4), 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde (5), rhemanone C (6) and loliolide (7). (see study below) (8)
- Study of methanol extract of L. phlegmaria isolated pentacyclic triterpenoids, 21β-hydroxy-serrat-14-en-3α-ol (1) and 21β-hydroxy-serrat-14-en-3α-yl acetate (2) were isolated together with four serratene triterpeneoids established as 21β,29-dihydroxyserrat-14-en-3α-yl dihydrocaffeate (lycophlegmariol A, 5), 21β,24,29-trihydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl dihydrocaffeate (lycophlegmariol B, 6), 21α,24-dihydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl 4-hydroxycinnamate (lycophlegmariol C, 7), and 14β,21α,29-trihydroxyserratan-3β-yl dihydrocaffeate (lycophlegmariol D, 8) as well as a known lycophlegmarin (9), along with an abietane-type diterpene, 8,11,13-abietatriene-3β,12-dihydroxy-7-one (margocilin, 10), isolated for the first time. (see study below) (12)

- Studies have suggest cytotoxic and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties.

Parts used
Spores, aerial parts.


- Young sporophyll and spores are dried, crushed into a fine powder, and used as herbal tea. (11)

- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Tamil Nadu, India, whole plant is ground into a paste and applied over wounds to hasten healing. (5)
- In India, young sporophyll and spores are crushed into a fine powder and made into herbal tea, used for the treatment of Alzheimer, Parkinson, and other neurological diseases. (6)
- Used for washing hair to stimulate hair growth.
- Rituals: Tribal people in India consider it a religious plant, kept in the pooja room, believing the plant can cure body sickness.

Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition / Huperphlegmarins A-B / Aerial Parts:
Study of aerial parts isolated two new abietane diterpenes, huperphlegmarin A-B (1-2), along with five known compounds including lycoxanthol (3), 21β-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl acetate (4), 21α-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-yl acetate (5), 21α-hydroxyserrat-14-en-3β-ol (6), and fawcettidine (7).  Compounds 3 showed inhibitory activity against AChE with IC50 of 465.6 µg/mL. (4)
Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition / Potential for Alzheimer's Disease / Alkaloids / Aerial Parts: Huperzia phlegmaria has been used for enhancing memory and alleviating brain disorders. It is a potent acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor, which contains high amounts of alkaloids. Study of aerial parts isolated lycopodium alkaloids.. Ellman's assay isolated two compounds, fawcettidine and 12-epilycodoline N-oxide, which showed moderate AChE inhibitory effects with IC50s of 33.11 µg/mL and 64.56 µg/mL, respectively. The compounds could be promising drugs for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. (7)
Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitory Activity / Lycopodium Alkaloids / Huperphlegmines A-B / Aerial Parts: Study of aerial parts isolated two novel Lycopodium alkaloids, huperphegmine A and B (1 and 2), along with five known compounds. Compounds 1 and 2 showed moderate acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activities, with IC50s of 25.95 and 29.14 µg/mL, respectively. (see constituents above) (8)
Effect on Cognitive Deficits Induced by Scopolamine: Study evaluated the in vitro AChE inhibitory activity of alkaloid extract (HpAE) and protective effects on mice with cognitive deficits induced by scopolamine. Results showed the HpAE had strong AChE inhibitory activity with IC50 of 5.12 µg/mL in a concentration dependent manner. Scopolamine induced cognitive impairment in Morris Water Maze and Y-Maze tests along with reduced levels of ACh and antioxidant enzyme and increased AChE activity in mouse brain tissues. Treatment with HpAE (30mg and 60 mg./kg) decreased SCP-induced cognitive impairment in both behavioral tests with decreased AChE activity and MDA level and increased ACh level and antioxidant enzyme in mouse brain tissue. Results suggest the HpAE at both doses has potential for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. (9)
Phytocompounds with Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition Activity and Alzheimer's Disease / Review: Alzheimer's disease (D) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by formation of amyloid-beta (Aß) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. AChE, a serine hydrolase, is the crucial enzyme in the hydrolysis of one of the most extensively known neurotransmitters acetylcholine (ACh) associated with the pathophysiology of AD. Study accumulates and reports on the data of medicinal plants with potential  AChEi used for treatment of AD worldwide. (10)
Lycophlegmariols A-D / Cytotoxic Serratene Triterpenoids against Lymphobastic Leukemia: Study of methanol extract of L. phlegmaria isolated pentacyclic triterpenoids, 21β-hydroxy-serrat-14-en-3α-ol (1) and 21β-hydroxy-serrat-14-en-3α-yl acetate (2) together with four serratene triterpeneoids, a well as a known lycophlegmarin, and an abietane-type diterpene. Lycophlegmariol B (6), D (8), and compound 1 showed inhibitory effects against MOLT-3 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-lymphoblast) with IC50 of 14.7, 3.0, and 2.9 µM, respectively. (see constituents above) (12)


April 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Huperzoa phlegmaria Tassel Fern / © Etsy / Non-commercial use / click on image to go to source page / Etsy
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Phlegmariurus phlegmaria / Reuben C J Lim  / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Non-commercial use / image modified / click on image to go to source page / flickr

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Huperzia phlegmaria / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Huperzia phlegmaria (PROSEA) / V B Amoroso / Pl@ntUse

Huperzia / Wikipedia
Two new abietane diterpenes huperphlegmarins A and B from Huperzia phlegmaria / Thi Huong Doan, Viet Duc Ho, Thi Bich Hien Le, Thi Hoai Nguyen et al / Natural Product Research, 2019; 33(14): pp 2051-2059 / DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2018.1484462
Ethnomedicinal Uses of Pteridophytes in Kolli Hills, Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, India
/ V Karthik, K Raju, M Ayyanar, K Gowrishankar, T Sekar / J Nat Prod Plant Research, 2011; 1(2): pp 50-55 / ISSN: 2231-3184

Edible Ferns in India and Their Medicinal Uses: A Review / Priti Giri, Prem L Uniyal / Prod Natl Acad Sci., India, Sect. B. Biol. Sci / DOI: 10.1007/s40011-021-01293-4
Two Lycopodium Alkaloids from the Aerial Parts of Huperzia phlegmaria /  Dang Kim Thu, Dao Thi Vui, Bui Thanh Tung / Pharmacognosy Research, 2019; 11(4): pp 396-399 / DOI: 10.4103/pr.pr_82_19
Huperphlegmines A and B, two novel Lycopodium alkaloids with an unprecedented skeleton from Huperzia phlegmaria, and their acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activities / Hoai Thi Nguyen, Huong Thi Doan, Ain Raal, Duc Viet Ho, Ky Thanh Pham, Hiroyuki Morita et al / Fitoterapia, 2018; Vol 129: pp 267-271 / DOI: 10.1016/j.fitote.2018.07.016
The Effect of Alkaloid Extracted from Huperzia Phlegmaria on Cognitive Deficits Scopolamine-Induced in Mice / Dang K Thu, Dao T Vui, Nguyen T N Huyen et al / Current Bioactive Compounds, 2021; 17(3): pp 267-278 / DOI: 10.2174/1573407216999200520082046
Suggested reading: Advances on plant extracts and phytocompounds with acetylcholinesterase inhibition activity for possible treatment of Alzheimer's disease / Rashid Taqui, Mithila Debnath, Safin Ahmed, Ajit Ghosh / Phytomedicine Plus, 2022; 2(1): 100184 / DOI: 10.1016/j.phyplu.2021.100184
Edible ferns and fern–allies of North East India: a study on potential wild vegetables / S. D. Yumkham . L. Chakpram, S. Salam, M. K. Bhattacharya, P. K. Singh / Genet Resour Crop Evol /
DOI: 10.1007/s10722-016-0372-5
Lycophlegmariols A–D: Cytotoxic serratene triterpenoids from the club moss Lycopodium phlegmaria L / Sawangjitt Wittayalai, Supaporn Sathalalai, Sakornat Thorroad et al / Phytochemistry, 2012; Vol 76: pp 117-123 / DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.01.006

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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