Phymatosorus grossus – Musk Fern

Phymatosorus grossus - Musk Fern, Laua'e, Maile-Scented Fern, Wart Fern

Phymatosorus grossus - Musk Fern, Laua'e, Maile-Scented Fern, Wart Fern (fertile frond with sori)

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Phymatosorus grossus

Synonyms: Microsorum grossum, Phymatosaurus grossus, Phymatosorus scolopendria auct. non (Burm. f.) Pic. Serm.

Common Names: Musk Fern, Laua'e, Maile-Scented Fern, Wart Fern

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Herb/Forb, Fern

Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental garden plant is native to parts of Oceania and tropical Asia.

Flower Color: Non-flowering

Height: Up to 3 feet (0.9 m) tall

Description: The fronds emerge from creeping, black or brown-scaled rhizomes and are glossy, dark green to bright green, erect, oval to oblong in shape, and deeply pinnatifid with usually 2 to 10 pairs of pinnate lobes. On the undersides of the fertile fronds, there are typically 1 or 2 rows of rounded, reddish brown sori on either side of the midribs.

These abundant ferns are mostly terrestrial and grow as a ground cover in disturbed, lower elevation forests, but they can also grow on rocks and trees.

Special Characteristics

Fragrant – The crushed leaves of some populations of this fern have a pleasant Maile (vanilla-like) fragrance and are used to make leis and to scent tapa.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class: Filicopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Polypodiaceae – Polypody family
Genus: Phymatosorus Pic. Serm. – phymatosaurus
Species: Phymatosorus grossus (Langsd. & Fisch.) Brownlie – musk fern