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Ampelopteris prolifera (Retz.) Copel.

Gen. fil.: 144 (1947).
Chromosome number
2n = 72
Hemionitis prolifera Retz. (1791), Goniopteris prolifera (Retz.) C.Presl (1836), Ampelopteris elegans Kunze (1848).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ampelopteris prolifera is widely distributed in the Old World tropics, in Africa and tropical mainland Asia to north-eastern Australia and New Caledonia. In Africa it is known from Senegal, Guinea, Cameroon and a large area in the east and south-east, from Tanzania south to Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern South Africa, but it probably occurs in many other regions as well. It is also found in Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands.
Although not often collected, young fronds of this fern are eaten as a fresh or cooked vegetable in India, where they are considered inferior to Diplazium fronds, which are more commonly eaten. They are laxative. In Tanzania, the leaf-sap is drunk in a mixture with Hypoestes aristata (Vahl) Sol. ex Roem. & Schult. to treat meningitis and encephalitis. Ampelopteris prolifera is also used in traditional medicine in India. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
A leaf extract of Ampelopteris prolifera showed antiviral activity against cucumber mosaic virus in Chenopodium amaranticolor Coste & Reyn.
Large, scrambling (up to 4 m long) herb with proliferous buds scattered along the rachis of fronds, developing into new plants; rhizome short-creeping, 4–10 mm in diameter. Leaves closely spaced, arching; petiole 12–50 cm long, pale brown, glabrous; lamina narrowly lanceolate to narrowly elliptical, 27–150 cm ื 9–26 cm, pinnate, apex indeterminate, papery, both surfaces glabrous; pinnae numerous, the basal pairs distant, the distal ones more closely spaced and smaller, oblong, 10–15(–20) cm ื 1.5–2 cm, base truncate to subcordate, subsessile, apex acute to acuminate, margin crenate; fronds from plants formed by proliferation on buds much smaller. Sori circular to elongate, 4–12 on each side of the pinna lobe, without indusium, with orange capitate paraphyses, at maturity uniting with adjacent sori. Spores closely and irregularly spinulose. Fern specialists disagree about the delimitation of genera within the large family Thelypteridaceae. As a result, the species treated here is found in the literature under a great variety of names; besides those already mentioned it has also been named in the genera Cyclosorus, Dryopteris, Meniscium, Phegopteris, Polypodium and Thelypteris. Sometimes the monotypic genus Ampelopteris is considered as a subgenus of the large genera Cyclosorus or Dryopteris.
The plants are usually sterile. The sori are produced particularly during dry periods. The freely proliferating buds result in effective local dispersal. It has been suggested that the plant spreads along river systems by flood waters breaking off fronds and depositing them on banks further downstream.
Ampelopteris prolifera grows mostly in full sunlight and is often found scrambling amongst tall grasses, sedges or shrubs in freshwater swamps, or beside rivers, ponds and lakes, up to 1250 m altitude. It requires permanent moisture; the rhizome is often found growing in water.
Fronds of Ampelopteris prolifera are probably only collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Neither collections nor breeding programmes are known for Ampelopteris prolifera. Since it is widespread and rather common, it is not liable to genetic erosion.
Ampelopteris prolifera may have prospects as a vegetable in Africa. There is a need for research into the nutritional value of the leaves and cultivation requirements of the fern as a vegetable crop. Propagation of the fern should not present too many problems because the proliferous buds make vegetative propagation easy.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Burrows, J.E., 1990. Southern African ferns and fern allies. Frandsen Publishers, Sandton, South Africa. pp. 270–272.
• Jacobsen, W.G.B., 1983. The ferns and fern allies of southern Africa. Butterworth Publishers, Durban/Pretoria, South Africa. 542 pp.
• Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E., 1970. Pteridophyta. In: Exell, A.W. & Launert, E. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Pteridophyta. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 254 pp. (pp. 200–202)
• Tardieu-Blot, M.-L., 1958. Polypodiac้es (sensu lato) (Polypodiaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), famille 5, tome 1. Firmin-Didot et cie., Paris, France. 391 pp.
Other references
• Anonymous, 12-2001. Thelypteridaceae Internet: http://www.anbg.gov.au/projects/fern/aquatic/thelypteridaceae.html
• Alston, A.H.G., 1959. The ferns and fern-allies of West Tropical Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 89 pp.
• Holttum, R.E., 1968. A revised flora of Malaya. Volume 2. Ferns of Malaya. Government Printing Office, Singapore. pp. 298–299.
• Holttum, R.E., 1981. Thelypteridaceae. Flora Malesiana, Series 2. Pteridophyta (Ferns & fern allies). Volume 1, part 5. M. Nijhoff / W. Junk Publishers, The Hague, the Netherlands. pp. 387–389.
• Pandey, A.K. & Bhargave, K.S., 1980. Antiviral activity of crude extracts of some pteridophytes. Indian Journal of Forestry 3(2): 132–133.
• Shankar, R. & Khare, P.K., 1985. Phytochemical studies of Ampelopteris prolifera and Diplazium esculentum. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 6(2): 499–502.
• Zamora, P.M. & Co, L., 1986. Guide to Philippine flora and fauna. Volume 2. Economic ferns, endemic ferns, gymnosperms. Natural Resources Management Center, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines, Goodwill Bookstore, Manila, the Philippines. p. 33.
• W. de Winter
Plevierenweide 82, 6708 BX Wageningen, the Netherlands

• L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
Associate Editors
• S.D. Davis
Centre for Economic Botany, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, United Kingdom
• M. Chauvet
INRA Communication, 2 Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, Cedex 1, France
• J.S. Siemonsma
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
de Winter, W., 2002. Ampelopteris prolifera (Retz.) Copel.. Record from Protabase. Oyen, L.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources v้g้tales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, the Netherlands.