Pyrrosia Piloselloides (Dragon Scale Fern)

Dragon Scale Fern/Sisik Naga

Pyrrosia piloselloides

Pyrrosia piloselloides is an epiphytic creeping fern with round, fleshy leaves. In the wild it’s known to completely blanket trees in overlapping leaves, giving them an armoured appearance like dragon scales. Quite unlike scales however, the contents of the soft, succulent leaves are often used medicinally in native cultures.

The Dragon Scale Fern adapts very well to terrarium settings, and will do best wrapped around driftwood branches or mounted to a background. With its light green colours and soft shapes it adds a lovely texture to any terrarium environment.

At a Glance

Where to Buy Dragon Scale Fern

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

Terrarium Plant Guide

Pyrrosia piloselloides Care & Growth

Lighting

Pyrrosia piloselloides has forgiving lighting requirements, and will readily grow in both low-light settings and areas of varying indirect sunlight. In heavily shaded areas, you’ll see the normally round leaves elongate and reach towards light sources. So you can use this as a guide.

Watering

The Dragon Scale Fern is an epiphytic species, but still prefers moist environments. It may need the occasional misting to keep it happy, but it’ll do well if attached to a consistently moist surface e.g. tree bark.

Substrate

The Dragon Scale Fern grows best attached to hardscape, but it can likely still grow on a moist substrate if the rhizome is not buried deep and there’s plenty of aeration.

Temperature & Humidity

Native to Malaysia, Singapore and other South East Asia countries, Pyrrosia piloselloides thrives in warm and humid tropical forest environments.

Growth

A very easy grower – under the right conditions – the Dragon Scale Fern will grow to eventually cover any hardscape items that it successfully attaches to.

Propagation

Pyrrosia piloselloides can be propagated via a variety of methods. They tend to reproduce mostly via spores in the wild, but we can do it via stem cuttings or simply dividing a larger plant. Try to separate/cut sections of rhizome with at least 4 or 5 leaves to give them a good chance at thriving on their own.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Pyrrosia is an interesting genus of epiphytic ferns. They come in a wide variety of leaf shapes and sizes, but unlike most ferns they tend to have succulent leaf qualities. Some like P. christii and P. lingua have long, tongue-like leaves and others like P. piloselloides have round, button-like leaves.

Common Problems

The Dragon Scale Fern is generally easy to grow in a terrarium if given a suitable environment and hardscape to attach to. The attachment phase (as the fern is developing its rhizoids) will be the most challenging part, but keep it watered and happy with the occasional misting and it’ll settle in nicely.