Schizaea dichotoma : Branched Comb Fern

Schizaea dichotoma

The fairy comb, branched comb fern, schizaea, fan fern

A small terrestrial fern and Australian plant found on the heath, in open forests, and sandy soils. It is an unusual fern that produces fertile fronds that look like fairies’ combs. It is often upright with upwards of 20 segments, 2+ branched. The repeatedly forked leaves lobes end in sorophores. Rhizomes short creeping upwards of 6 cm in length that is covered with coarse, lustrous, brown hairs extending 2-3 mm in length. It is common in Australia, New Zealand, Malesia, and Papua New Guinea, as well as Pacific Ocean Islands. It grows approximately 20-40 cm high. It is named after the Greek word “dichotoma” meaning “twice cut” because of its fronds branched nature.


In Indonesian folk traditions, the root is used to treat coughs and other throat issues as well as a childbirth tonic for women. In Malaysian lore, a decoction of the roots are used to treat coughs, and when mixed with other herbs to treat kidney issues and impotency.

keywords: fairy comb, branched comb fern, schizaea, fan fern, ferns, coughs, twice cut, dichotoma, throat issues, childbirth, tonic, kidney issues, impotency, schizaea dichotoma


  • n.d. “Schizaea dichotoma” New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Website referenced 6/23/21 at
  • Smith, J.E. n.d. “Schizaea dichotoma (PROSEA)”. Pl@ntUse. Website referenced 6/23/21 at
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Schizaea dichotoma”. Website referenced 6/23/21 at