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Ecological treasure of Taiwan - Paradise for Ferns

Taiwan is the highest density of ferns in the world.

Are you aware that Taiwan is a paradise of ferns? There are more than 800 species of ferns (including unpublished species) growing on this small island, giving it the highest density of ferns in the world.

One can discover the epiphytic Bird's-nest fern growing on tree trunks while walking in the damp forests at low and medium altitudes.

Located in the subtropics and surrounded by sea, Taiwan is a warm and humid island where numerous high mountains were formed as a result of the extrusion and upheaval of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea Plates. As it is the most suitable environment for ferns to grow, all kinds of the world's major fern plants can be seen from lower to higher altitudes throughout the entire country.

One can discover the epiphytic Bird's-nest fern growing on tree trunks while walking in the damp forests at low and medium altitudes. As it looks like a bird’s nest and it intercepts the falling nutrients in its cup-shaped leaves, the plant is known as the “Bird’s-nest fern”. It is also one of the must-eat fern dishes when visiting indigenous tribes in Taiwan. Although distributed throughout the Americas, Australia and Southeast Asia, Taiwan’s Amis people were the first to utilize the Bird's-nest fern as food.

Apart from this, what should we do if we are running out of water and are feeling thirsty after a long walk? The traditional knowledge of the Aboriginals reminds us to search for a bunch of Tuberous Sword Fern. This plant, which is the best support for wilderness survival, grows tubers like iron eggs for storing up moisture content. Drinking from these tubers is extremely thirst quenching, just as if you had brought your own water bottle. As for why the Tuberous Sword Fern is called the “kidney fern” in Chinese, take a close look at the sorus on the back of the leaf for the answer.

Ferns are truly Bird’s-nest fernmagical plants which have each developed their own unique survival skills to find mechanisms to accommodate themselves to different environments. Without blossoming, bearing fruits or spreading seeds, ferns have still managed to exist on Earth for several hundred million years even after the dinosaurs had disappeared. Tamarisklike Spikemoss is also a type of fern whose tiny leaves are tightly aligned and grow all together. Differing greatly from other regular ferns, the external form of this plant looks like the legendary dragon scales. You won’t be able to stop admiring the profound and exuberant vitality of nature if you have the chance to see a Tamarisklike Spikemoss growing on the rock face of the valley. 

Perhaps you already know that the Silver fern is the national symbol of New Zealand, and the badge of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby union team, aside from being considered sacred by the Maori. Yet in Taiwan, Silver Ferns are authentic ecological treasures that can be seen everywhere. ‎The astonishing Common Tree Fern, which has lived on this planet since the Jurassic period, is also an inhabitant of Taiwan: standing in front of the Common Tree Fern forest, try to imagine the spectacle of the ancient forests. Do you think this is good enough? Certainly not. The diversity of Taiwan’s ferns will surely take you by surprise!