Common name: Woolly Fern, Golden Chicken Fern, Golden Moss, Scythian Lamb, Penawar Jambi, bulu pusi, bulu empusi
Botanical name: Cibotium Barometz.
Family: Cyatheaceae / DICKSONIACEAE
Genus: Cibotium (sih-BOH-tee-um)
Species: barometz (BAR-oh-metz)
This plant may be considered a protected species
Cibotium barometz is native to Taiwan, China, the Ryukyu Islands (Japan), India, Indochina, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
A large tree fern with stem usually creeping and, like the petiole bases, covered with stiff, golden hairs. Caudex (trunk) massive, prostrate to erect, up to 2-3 m long, the young parts at the top very densely covered with shiny golden-brown hairs up to more than 4 cm long, young plants softly hairy throughout. Leaves in a tuft at the apex of the trunk; petiole stout, some¬times attaining 2 cm in diameter, more than 1.5 m long in larger ones, brownish, bases hairy like the caudex, the rest tomentose when young, glabrescent when old; lamina bipinnately compound, ovate to elliptical in outline, up to 2 m x 1 m, under side glaucous, upper side darker green, at underside the veins with pale, entangled, flaccid, appressed hairs (young plants hairy throughout); rachis brown, densely covered with pale to ferrugineous hairs; pinnae many, alternating, pinnate pinnatifid, in outline oblong to lanceolate, the largest ones up to 80 cm x 25 cm, stalk 0.5-1 cm long, apex acuminate; pinnules numerous, often with a few pairs of tertiary leaflets at the base, deeply pinnatifid throughout, very shortly stalked or subsessile at distal parts of pinnae, linear lanceolate, 10-15 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, broadly cuneate to subtruncate at base, gradually narrowing towards acuminate apex; ultimate divisions oblong, oblique to subfalcate, 0.8-1.4 cm x about 3 mm, acute at apex, shallowly but distinctly dentate at margin; veins distinct, oblique, once (or twice in larger lobes) forked, sparsely hairy below. Sori protected by two indusia which are alike in texture and different from the green lamina; outer indusium deflexed so that the sorus appears to be on the underside of the lobe, permanently round; inner indusium at maturity bending back towards the costule and elongating, becoming oblong; the two indusia joined together for a short distance at their bases, thus forming a small cup, terminal on usually unbranched lower veins, 2-4 or more pairs on a lobe on the largest leaves, parallel to edge of lobes; paraphyses long and numerous; sporangia gradate, annulus oblique and opening laterally. Spores with equatorial ridge, annulate or annulotrilete; exine with proximal face bearing 3 rows of short laesural ridges, distal face with a distal ridge.
Spore – bearing period: October – January.
Distribution: Grows wild in wet and shady ravines in mountainous regions.
Rhizomes are harvested at the end of the year. After all the radicles and the yellow hairs covering them have been removed, the rhizomes should be chipped into slices and dried in the sun.
Chemical composition: The rhizomes contain 30% starch. The yellow fuzz yields tannin and pigments.
The rhizome has anti-inflammatory and anodyne properties. It is utilized in the therapy of rheumatism, osteodynia, lumbago, sciatica, leucorrhoea, polyuria in the aged, dysuria and pollakiuria. The daily dosage is 10 to 20g in the form of a decoction or alcoholic maceration. The yellow hairs of the rhizome are used in a haemostatic poultice for wounds.
Antirheumatic, hepatic, styptic.
The golden-coloured hairs on the rhizome and young parts of C. barometz and other Cibotium species have long been used in China, South-East Asia and elsewhere as a styptic to stop bleeding. In China and Japan an extract of the rhizome (‘gouji’) is used as an antirheumatic, to stimulate the liver and kidneys, to strengthen the spine, to expel wind and dampness, and as a prostatic remedy. On indication of deficiency of the liver and kidneys, manifested as pain in the lower back and knees, gouji is used with the bark of the hardy rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides Oliv.), teasel root (Dipsacus sp.) and cyathula root (Achyranthes bidentata Blume). When accompanied by invasion of wind and dampness, manifested as soreness and pain in the lower back and knees and motoric impairment, gouji is used with cinnamon twigs, big-leafed gentian root (Gentiana macrophylla Pall.) and futokadsura stem (Kadsura japonica Dunal). In the Philippines, the stem is used to treat topical wounds and ulcers.
In Malaysia an infusion of the leaves is said to cure fainting. The hairs have also been used to stuff pillows and cushions; such pillows are very cool during warm nights and are well suited to use in the tropics, but the hairs easily break when they become dry and they can irritate the skin and lungs when they pass through the pillow case. In general, all Cibotium species have also ornamental value and, e.g. crowns with croziers are cut for table decoration.
In China a diluted solution of plant parts is used to control aphids and spider mites. The hairy rhizome of C. barometz is supposed to have given rise to the fable of the Scythian lamb (Tartarian lamb, vegetable lamb) which was said to grow on a stalk like a plant and to devour plants (or just air) around it. The suggestion is that a piece of the rhizome of C. barometz, with 4 stipes attached, inverted, may have had a lamb-like appearance. Such pieces of rhizome were sold from a very early date for their hairs which will staunch a bleeding wound. They were also used as charms hung in houses to ward off evil. Such pieces are still sold as charms in the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan.
When forests were cleared in Peninsular Malaysia in the 1970s, many such tree ferns became accessible to collectors who cut off their apices and sold them in pots as Golden Chicken plants, to be used as table ornaments and charms. The vendors claimed that these plants would keep the house cool, ward off evil and cure certain illnesses.
Malay folklore medicinal usage:
The hairy fern is pasted onto area that is being bitten or stung by insect or leech and also to stop the flow of blood.
Rhizome : Cut them really small, dried them and boil. Drink the water to bring up body heat, tonic for heart and kidney, strengthen back portion of spine and knee; prevent rheumatism, weak body, body ache, strengthen overall health.