Index
Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Dryopteris Sp. - Wood Fern

Family: Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern) [E-flora]

"Rhizome short-creeping or ascending to suberect, stout. Leaf: stipe > 1.5 mm wide, firm, more densely scaly than midrib, base ×-section with many round vascular strands in an arc; blade >= 1–3-pinnate, proximal pinnae reduced or not, veins free, simple or forked; segments deeply pinnately lobed or not. Sporangia: sori round; indusium round-reniform, ± centrally attached at a sinus, generally persistent.
± 100 species: ± worldwide, especially eastern Asia. (Greek: oak, fern) Hybrids unknown in California, frequent in eastern North America.
Unabridged references: [Montgomery & Paulton 1981 Fiddlehead Forum 8:25–31]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Dryopteris arguta - Coastal wood fern [E-flora]
  2. Dryopteris carthusiana - Toothed wood fern [E-flora]
  3. Dryopteris expansa - Spiny wood fern [E-flora]
  4. Dryopteris filix-mas - Male Fern [E-flora]

Dryopteris arguta - Coastal wood fern

This is a blue-listed taxon in B.C. [E-flora]

"General: Perennial in vase-like clusters from a stout, creeping rhizome." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Overwintering, oblong-lanceolate, broadest in the middle and narrowed towards the top and less towards the bottom, 20-60 cm long, 5-25 cm wide, 1-pinnate, the pinnae deeply cut; segments with small, spiny teeth along the margin." [IFBC-E-flora]

Similar Species: "Dryopteris arguta may be confused with Dryopteris filix-mas, which is a similar species but lacks the long spreading spine-like teeth on pinnules and the lance shaped, chestnut coloured scales on the undersides of pinnae of D. arguta. Scales on pinnae of D. filix-mas are linear or hair-like (Jamison and Douglas 1998). -Source: British Columbia Conservation Data Centre" [E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Mesic forest margins and rocky sea cliffs in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC; S to CA, disjunct in AZ." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

References


Dryopteris carthusiana - Toothed wood fern

Habitat / Range
"Wet forests, swamps and avalanche tracks in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent throughout BC; circumpolar, N to YT and NT, E to NF and S to MA, NH, SC, AL, AR, NE, MT, ID and OR; Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain and Siberia. N. America." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

"Dryopteris carthusiana is a FERN growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist or wet soil." [PFAF]

"General: Deciduous perennial arising in a vase-like cluster." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Oblong, 20-70 cm long, 5-30 cm wide, smooth, 2-3 pinnate, the lowermost pinnae about the same length as those next to them higher up on the frond, leaf outline with parallel sides in its lower half." [IFBC-E-flora]

Hazards

"Although we have found no reports for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. The fresh plant contains thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172]. However, there have been reports for other species of ferns suggesting that even cooked fronds can have a long term harmful effect. Some caution is therefore advised." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"The root contains ‘filicin’, a substance that paralyses tapeworms and other internal parasites and has been used as a worm expellent[4, 222, 238]. It is one of the most effective treatments known for tapeworms - its use should be immediately followed by a non-oily purgative such as magnesium sulphate in order to expel the worms from the body[238]. An oily purge, such as caster oil, increases the absorption of the fern root and can be dangerous[238]. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use, it should not be stored for longer than 12 months[238]. This remedy should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. The root is toxic and the dosage is critical[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity." [PFAF]

Propagation
"Spores - can be sown at any time of the year in a greenhouse. Surface sow on a sterilised compost and keep moist, possibly by placing the pot in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20oc. Pot up small clumps of the plants when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Division in spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]

Cultivation
"Prefers an acid to neutral soil, succeeding in ordinary fertile soil in a shady position[175, 200]. Requires permanently moist conditions at its roots. A very ornamental plant[1], it is often evergreen in mild winters[188]. Plants spread slowly at the rootstock[233]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]." [PFAF]

Synonyms

References


Dryopteris expansa - Spiny wood fern

"Dryopteris expansa is a FERN growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. The seeds ripen from Jul to September.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"General: Deciduous perennial arising in vase-like clusters or singly." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Triangular to oblong-triangular, 20-70 cm long, 10-60 cm wide, sparsely glandular on rachis and lower side of pinnae, 2- to 3-pinnate, the lowest pinnae longer than the upper ones, leaf outlines triangular." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Mesic to wet forests, forest margins and scree slopes from the lowland and steppe to subalpine zones; common in BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF, S to MI, WI, MN, CO, ID and CA; Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora] "Northern Temperate Zone, including Britain." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A shade-tolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar fern (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on fresh to very moist. nitrogen-medium soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence increases with increasing precipitation. Common and occasionally dominant in coniferous forests on water-shedding and water-receiving sites; often inhabits decaying wood. Associated with Blechnum spicant, Polystichum munitum, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, and Vaccinium alaskaense. Characteristic of friable Mor and acidic Moder humus forms." (Information applies to coastal locations only) [IPBC-E-flora]

Hazards

Thiaminase

"Although we have found no reports for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. The fresh plant contains thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172]. However, there have been reports for other species of ferns suggesting that even cooked fronds can have a long term harmful effect. Some caution is therefore advised." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

Spiny Wood Fern – Dryopteris expansa

Part: Steamed Roots Per 100 g fresh weight
Food Energy (Kcal) 74 Ash (g) 1 Potassium (mg) -
Water (g) 81 Thiamine (mg) 0.06 Magnesium (mg) 68
Protein (g) 0.7 Riboflavin (mg) 0.04 Calcium (mg) 34
Fat (g) 0.5 Niacin (mg) 0.6 Phosphorus (mg) 38
Carbohydrate (g) 16.5 Vitamin C (mg) - Sodium (mg) -
Crude Fiber (g) 6.5 Vitamin A (RE) 0.3 Iron (mg) 4.2
Zinc (mg) 0.3 Manganese (mg) 0.3 Copper (mg) 0.3

Per 100g (Steamed) root stalks contained 68(SD=2.6)g water, 2.5g protein,1g fat, 27.3g carbohydrates, 126kcal (525kJ) Energy.
Per 100g fresh root stalks; 3.7g fibre, 0.76g ash, 56(4.4 SD) mg Ca, 63(29) mg P, 1.4(.45) mg Na, 44(17) mg Mg, 0.8(.06) mg Fe, 1.5(.77) mg Zn, 1.5(.11) mg Cu, 3190(1100) ug Mn, 588(69) ug Sr [Kuhnlein NVNBC]

Propagation
"Spores - can be sown at any time of the year in a greenhouse. Surface sow on a sterilised compost and keep moist, possibly by placing the pot in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20oc. Pot up small clumps of the plants when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Division in spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]

Cultivation
"An easily grown plant[233], it prefers an acid to neutral soil, succeeding in ordinary fertile soil in a shady position[175, 200]. Prefers a moist soil[188]. Closely related to D. dilatata and hybridising where their ranges meet to produce D. x ambroseae. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]." [PFAF]

Synonyms

References


Dryopteris filix-mas - Male Fern

SUBTAXA PRESENT IN BC

"General: Deciduous perennial in vase-like clusters from a short, stout rhizome." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Dryopteris filix-mas is an evergreen Fern growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought." [PFAF]

Habitat / Range
"Mesic to moist alluvial forests, avalanche tracks, talus and rocky crevices in the lowland to subalpine zones; frequent in coastal BC except rare on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, infrequent in SC BC; almost cosmopolitan, but widely disjunct, E to NF and S to MA, NH, NY, MI, IL, TX, NM, AZ and CA; Eurasia, S America, S Asia, S Africa." [IFBC-E-flora] "Throughout Europe, including Britain, and temperate Asia." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane, circumpolar fern (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Sporadic on water-shedding and water-receiving sites, alluvial forests and avalanche tracks. Typically associated with Athyrium filix-femina, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, Oplopanax horridus, and Tiarella unifoliata. Characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms. (IPBC)

Hazards
"Although we have found no reports for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. The fresh plant contains thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172]. However, there have been reports for other species of ferns suggesting that even cooked fronds can have a long term harmful effect. Some caution is therefore advised." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

Biological Source "Male fern comprises of rhizomes and stipes of Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott.; D. marginata (Wall.) Christ; D. odontolma (Hochst.)C. Chr., and other species of Dryopteris belonging to family: Polypodiaceae." [PCPB]

Preparation "The male ferns are prepared by first collecting the rhizomes in the autumn, washed, roots and the stipes except their bases are removed. Finally, the trimmed rhizomes are dried by applying a moderate heat very carefully." [PCPB]

Characteristic Features "The rhizomes are dark brown or reddish brown externally and surrounded by stipes bases. The stipes bases are covered with membranous scales (ramenta). It has a slight and characteristic odour. It gives initially a sweetish taste, followed by bitter, astringent and nauseous taste. The rhizomes are cylindrical to conical in shape." [PCPB]

"Production: Male Fern leaf consists of the fresh or dried leaf of Dryopteris filix-mas. Male Fern herb consists of the fresh or dried above-ground parts of Dryopteris filix-mas. Male Fern rhizome consists of me fresh or dried rhizomes separated from the attached roots. The root-stock is collected in autumn and gently dried." [PDR] "Not to be Confused With: The rhizomes of most European Dyopteris species." [PDR]

"EFFECTS Male Fern herb has an anthelmintic effect and is strongly cytotoxic against band worms and liver flukes, although roundworm and oxyuris are resistant. It is also cell toxic, virostatic and antiviral. The pharmacological effect is largely due to the flavaspidic acid with filicic acids being the main active principle." [PDR]

MALE FERN (Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott) [HMH Duke]
Activities (Male Fern)
Abortifacient (f; MPG);
Antibacterial (1; MPG);
Antiseptic (1;MPG);
Antiviral (1; PHR; PH2);
Aperient (f; CRC);
Astringent (f; CRC);
Contraceptive (f;MPG);
Cyanogenic (f; CRC);
Cytotoxic (1; PHR; PH2);
Insecticide (f; CRC);
Laxative (f;CRC);
Pectoral (f; CRC; EFS);
Poison (f; CRC);
Taenifuge (f; CRC; PNC);
Vermifuge (1;CRC; GMH; PHR; PNC).
Indications (Male Fern)
Bacteria (1; MPG);
Cancer (f; CRC);
Constipation (f; CRC);
Dentition (f; PHR);
Earache (f; PHR; PH2);
Epistaxis (f; CRC);
Flu (1; MPG);
Fluke (f; PHR);
Hepatosis (f; PHR);
Herpes (1; MPG);
Induration (f; JLH);
Infection (1; MPG; PH2);
Menorrhagia (f; CRC);
Myalgia (f; PHR; PH2);
Neuralgia (f; PHR; PH2);
Ophthalmia (f; PH2);
Pain(f; PHR; PH2);
Puerperium (f; CRC);
Rheumatism (f; PHR; PH2);
Rickets (f; GMH);
Sciatica(f; HHB; PHR; PH2);
Stomatosis (1; MPG);
Tapeworm (1; CRC; PHR; PNC);
Toothache (f;PHR; PH2);
Virus (1; MPG; PHR; PH2);
Worm (1; CRC; GMH; PHR; PNC);
Wound (f; CRC;GMH; PH2).
Dosages "(Male Fern) — 1–10 g (PNC); 6–8 g for adults, 4–6 g for children but may be toxic (PHR); 3–6 ml plant extract (PNC)." [HMH Duke]
Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects (Male Fern)

"Canadians do not allow its use as a nonmedicinal ingredient for oral use products (AHP). In too-large doses, an irritant poison, causing muscular weakness and coma, particularly injurious to eyesight, even causing blindness. Other symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vertigo, delirium, tremors, convulsion, and cardiac or respiratory failure. Allergenic in some and can be fatally poisonous if misused. It should be used only by prescription from a doctor, and I doubt many doctors will prescribe it (CRC). Contraindicated in anemia, cardiopathy, diabetes, hepatosis, and nephrosis (PH2)" [HMH Duke]

Phytochemicals

Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) SCHOTT - Male Fern [DukePhyt]
Chemical /Part /Loppm /Hippm /Reference
11,13(13)-HOPADIENE Rhizome 411
12-HOPENE Rhizome 411
9(11)-FERNENE Rhizome 411
ALBASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
ASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
ASPIDINOL Rhizome HHB
BUTANONEPHLOROGLUCIDES Rhizome HHB
BUTYRIC-ACID Rhizome HHB
DESASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
EO Rhizome 80 400 HHB
FAT Rhizome 50000 60000 HHB
FILICIC-ACID Rhizome HHB
FILICIN Rhizome 15000 WOI
FILICYLBUTANONE Rhizome 411
FILIX-ACID-BBB Rhizome JBH
FILMARONE Plant WOI
FLAVASPIDIC-ACID Rhizome HHB
GLUCOSE Rhizome HHB
HEXANOL Rhizome HHB
ISOBUTYRIC-ACID Rhizome HHB

MARGASPIDIN Rhizome HHB FT63(1):3
METHYLENE-BIS-NORFLAVASPIDIC-ACID Rhizome HHB
OCTANOL Rhizome HHB
OLEORESIN Rhizome 65000 150000 LAF
PARASPIDIN Rhizome 411
PHLOBAPHENE Rhizome HHB
PHLORASPIDINOL Rhizome HHB
PHLORASPIN Rhizome HHB
PHLORASPYRONE Rhizome HHB
PHLOROGLUCIN Rhizome HHB
PHLOROPYRON Rhizome HHB
PROTOCATECHUIC-ACID Rhizome HHB
PSEUDOASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
SUGAR Rhizome 110000 HHB
TANNINS Rhizome 78000 HHB
TRISASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
TRISDESASPIDIN Rhizome HHB
TRISFLAVASPIDIC-ACID Rhizome HHB

Rhizome:

  • "Acylphloroglucinoles (2%, mixtures termed raw filicin or filicin): in particular, flavaspidic acids, filicinic acids, paraspidin, desaspidin" [PDR]
  • Tannins [PDR]

Leaves

  • "Acylphloroglucinoles (0.2%, mixtures termed raw filicin or filicin): in particular, flavaspidic acids, filicinic acids, paraspidin, desaspidin" [PDR]
  • Flavonoids [PDR]

Lore

"MALE FERN (Dryopteris filix-mas) After bracken, this is the bestknown fern inBritain, widespread and common in woods and hedgerows. The Lucky Hand, or St John’s Hand (so called because it had to be prepared on St John’s, or Midsummer, Eve), is made from the root of Male Fern, to protect a house from fire. When it was dug up, all but five of the unrolled fronds were cut away, so that what remained looked like a gnarled hand with hooked fingers. It was then smoked and hardened in one of the Midsummer bonfires, and then hidden away in some corner of the house. As long as it stayed there, the house would be safe from fire and a good many other perils (Hole. 1977). The young fronds, too, were reckoned to be a protection against sorcery (Gordon. 1985)." [DPL Watts]
"The root had other, more genuine, uses, for it served as a vermifuge. In the 19th century, oil of fern, made from this plant, could be bought to do the job (C P Johnson). The root was apparently marketed in the 18th century by a Madame Noufleen “as a secret nostrum”, for the cure of tapeworm. After he had paid a lot of money to buy it, Louis XV and his physicians discovered that it had been used ever since Galen’s time (Paris). But, though used quite a lot in folk medicine, the roots are poisonous, and can even be fatal (Tampion). Perhaps that is why the dried leaves are used in Ireland for the purpose (Maloney). Although the root is occasionally used in tincture in homeopathic medicine, to treat septic wounds, ulcers and varicose veins, the chief use these days is in veterinary practice, for expelling tapeworms (Wickham)." [DPL Watts]

"Because male-fern [Dryopteris filix-mas](in the old aggregate sense) was recommended as a vermifuge by all the leading Classical writers, it is hard to be sure of the genuineness of its place in the folk repertory as the cure for tapeworm par excellence. It is nevertheless suggestive that the numerous records for that are all from the ‘Celtic fringe’ and that it has been used in Ireland for other ailments as well: for burns in Waterford,68 shingles in Tipperary69 and erysipelas in Limerick.70 Greatly confusing the picture, however, was the extensive publicity for its use produced by two papers in the Edinburgh Monthly Medical Journal in 1852–3 (‘On the treatment of Tape-worm by the Male Shield Fern’), which brought to notice a more reliable method of exploiting the plant—by soaking the fresh rhizomes in ether—and thereafter gave it respectability in official medical circles.71 The powerful anthelminthic properties attributed to the rhizomes certainly have a well-attested clinical basis but their use is regarded today as dangerous." [MPFT]

Propagation
"Spores - can be sown at any time of the year in a greenhouse. Surface sow on a sterilised compost and keep moist, possibly by placing the pot in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20oc. Pot up small clumps of the plants when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Division in spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]

Cultivation
"Prefers an acid to neutral soil, succeeding in ordinary fertile soil in a shady position[175, 200]. Succeeds in poor soils[208]. Succeeds in full sun but grows best in a shady position with only 2 - 3 hours sun per day[200]. Tolerates a pH range from 4.5 to 7[200]. Dislikes heavy clay[1]. Prefers a good supply of water at its roots[1] but succeeds in dry shade[28] and tolerates drought when it is established[200]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -30oc[200], the plant remains evergreen in the milder areas of Britain[233]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. An aggregate species[17]. There are many named forms, selected for their ornamental value[187]." [PFAF]

Synonyms

References


Uses of Dryopteris sp.

Spiny Wood Fern (Dryopteris expansa and related species; syn. D. austriaca, D. assimilis, D. spinulosa, D. dilatata; also incl. D. carthusiana) [Turner&kuhnlein]

"Common and widespread fern of damp woods, thickets, and swamps, often on rotten stumps and logs; from southern Alaska east to Newfoundland, extending south to California on the Pacific and North Carolina on the Atlantic."[Turner&kuhnlein]

"There is probably more confusion about the identity of the edible fern rootstock of this and related species than about any other traditional food plant in Western Canada. Many reports have been published concerning the edibility of certain ferns by Pacific Coast Indigenous Peoples, but the identity is often doubtful. Part of the problem is that fern rootstocks are sel dom used as food at present, and few elders can recognize those used traditionally or distinguish them from those that were not used. Edible fern rootstocks, all having more-or-less similar descriptions and methods of gathering and preparation, have been described and identified as Dryopteris species (Gorman, 1896—"Aspidium spinulosum var. dilatatum"; Oswalt, 1957; Turner, 1973, 1975; Heller, 1976; Lepofsky et al., 1985; Kari, 1987). In other cases (cf. 'Ksan, People of, 1980; Norton, 1981) the edible fern has been incorrectly placed in different genera. Dryopteris filix-mas (Turner, 1973), Polystichum munitum (Turner, 1975) and Athyrium filix-femina (Kari, 1987) have also been suggested as having edible rootstocks used by Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Coast, but evidence suggests that the predominant edible fern rootstocks were of Dryopteris expansa (Turner et al., 1991.)."[Turner&kuhnlein]

"Many descriptions exist of the edible fern and its use. The rootstocks have been variously described as "like 2 hands clasped together" (Norton, 1981), or "like a woody sweet potato" ('Ksan, People of, 1980), or like a bunch of fingers or bananas in a cluster. They were usually dug in spring or fall, and could even be dug out from under the snow in mid-winter. They were baked whole in underground pits, then the "fingers" (fleshy basal stocks of previous years' fronds) were broken off, peeled and eaten, often with animal or fish fat or oil. They are said to resemble sweet potato in texture and taste." [Turner&kuhnlein]

"Edible fern rootstocks described as above were used by virtually all Northwest Coast Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia, as well as by the Lower Nlaka'pamux, Lower Lillooet, Nishga, Gitksan, Wet'suwet'en, Carrier, and Chilcotin, and by the southwest Alaskan and western Washington groups. The Kaigani Haida are said to boil and eat the "fiddleheads" (of "Thelypteris"; based on identification of a specimen later confirmed as Athyrium filix-femina) as a vegetable at present. Even some Eskimo peoples, of Bristol Bay and Lower Kuskokwim, Alaska, used the rootstocks (Heller, 1976). Oswalt (1957) notes that the rootstocks were occasionally collected, boiled in water, and added to agutuk, or "Eskimo ice cream." Furthermore, Heller notes that the young shoots, or "fiddlenecks" of "D. austriaca” are collected, cooked, and eaten, and even canned for winter use by many Southeast Alaskans. Kari (1987) reports that the "fiddleheads" of several types of ferns were eaten by the Tanaina. Furthermore, the Tanaina in historic times made a type of beer by boiling the edible rootstocks of Dryopteris (called "uh") and fermenting them with hops, sugar, mashed potato or cornmeal, and yeast. Kari (1987) suggests that this practice was learned from Russians who first "settled" the area." [Turner&kuhnlein]

"Dryopteris expansa (spiny wood fern); Dryopteridaceae—moist open forest, avalanche runs, circumpolar region; rootstocks pit-cooked or steamed and eaten by First Peoples of NW N America." [ETWP]

Other Uses
"Often on journeys a "slow match" was carried, made from eedar bark rope or a mass of Dryopteris roots enclosed in a clamshell." [Turner ECSVI]

Ethnobotanical Uses of Dryopteris Sp.[DukePhyt]
Dryopteris anthelmintica Anthelminthic Uphof
Dryopteris athamantica Placenta Guillarmod
Dryopteris crassirhizoma Hemorrhage Nas; Hookworms Nas; Prophylaxis Nas; Puerperium Nas; Taenicide Takeda; Vermifuge* Nas
Dryopteris cristata Expectorant Krochmal; Fever Krochmal; Sudorific Krochmal; Vermifuge Krochmal
Dryopteris dentata Bactericide* Woi.3
Dryopteris filix-mas Aperient Steinmetz; Astringent Steinmetz; Cyanogenetic Eb30: 402; Pectoral Steinmetz; Poison Steinmetz; Taenifuge Steinmetz; Tumor Hartwell; Vermifuge FontQuer, Steinmetz, Tackholm, Woi.Syria
Dryopteris heterocarpa Leucoderma Uphof
Dryopteris marginalis Poison Steinmetz; Vermifuge Steinmetz, Woi.3
Dryopteris normalis Ache(Ear) Eb31: 348; Contraceptive(Post) Eb31: 348; Metrorrhagia Eb31: 348
Dryopteris paleacea Anthelminthic Uphof
Dryopteris setigera Dysentery Eb24: 281; Hematochezia Eb24: 281
Dryopteris spinulosa Aperient Steinmetz; Astringent Steinmetz; Pectoral Steinmetz; Poison Steinmetz; Taenifuge Steinmetz; Vermifuge Steinmetz, Stenimetz

"Dryopteris marginalis contains margaspidin, flavaspidic acids. paraaspidin, phloraspin, and others.5,6" [Leung ECNI]

"Extracts containing phloroglucinols from Dryopteris crassirhizoma Nakai have antimicrobial activities in vitro8 and antitumor activities in transplanted tumors (ARS, S180, U14, B22, etc.) in rats and micc.9" [Leung ECNI]

"The rhizome and stipes of Dryopteris Filix-mas (Linne) Schott, or of Dryopteris marginalis (Linne) Asa Gray (Fam. Polypodiaceae), collected in the autumn, freed from the roots and dead portions of rhizome and stipes and dried at a temperature not exceeding 70o C. (158o F.). Preserve Aspidium in tightly-closed containers and protect from light." U. S. " Male Fern is the rhizome of Dryopteris Filix-mas, Schott. Collected late in the autumn, divested of its roots, leaves, and dead portions, and carefully dried. Should not be kept more than a year." [Remington USD20]
"Aspidium deteriorates rapidly when kept, and in about two years becomes entirely inert. The rhizomes of other species of fern are frequently substituted for the official, and in the dried state it is difficult to distinguish them. The varying results reported by physicians when using this drug, can undoubtedly be ascribed to the employment of spurious male fern, or old brownish rhizomes which should have been thrown away. Use only such portions as have retained their green color." [Remington USD20]

"Feeble but disagreeable odor; taste sweetish and astringent at first, but subsequently bitter and nauseous." [Remington USD20]
"In collecting male fern, all the black discolored portions should be cut away, the fibers and scales separated, and only the sound green parts preserved. These should be immediately but carefully dried, and then pulverized; and the powder should be kept in small well-stoppered glass bottles. Powdered althsea leaves are sometimes used as an adulterant of powdered aspidium, giving the desirable light-green tint indicative of a good quality of drug. At other times the powder is said to consist entirely of the chaff and other inert material which the Pharmacopoeia directs should be rejected." [Remington USD20]
"Aspidium is used in medicine almost solely for the purpose of getting rid of various intestinal parasites, especially the tapeworm. As to its value in other forms of helminthiasis there is difference of opinion. Schultz (J. A. M. A., 1911, lvii) reports 75 per cent. of cures in cases of hookworm infection, but Patterson (T. G., 1908, xii), on the other hand, states that it has been found absolutely without value in this infection. Its action appears not to be so much to kill the parasite as to paralyze it so that it can be washed out of the alimentary canal with an active purge." [Remington USD20]
"Besides as a vermifuge aspidium has been recommended by La Nara (J. des Pract., 1910) as a local application in eczema and acne." [Remington USD20]
Aspidium is a violent poison, the relative rarity of serious symptoms from its use being due to its non-absorbability. Under certain conditions, probably when there is a large amount of fatty matter in the bowel, it may be absorbed with unexpected readiness and give rise to serious and even fatal poisoning. Six drachms of it have caused death. (L. L., 1882.) The common symptoms have been vomiting, diarrhea, vertigo, headache, tremors, cold sweats, dyspnea, cyanosis, convulsions and mental disturbances. In nearly half of the cases there was disturbance of vision and even blindness, which in a few instances remained permanently. According to Harnack (M. M. W., 1912, lix, 1941) the blindness is due to spasm of the retinal vessels and subsequent optic atrophy. Prevost and Binet have found that in the lower animals, given hypodemically, the oleoresin produces violent dyspnea and death from arrest of the heart in systole, and Frohner has found parenchymatous nephritis in animals fatally poisoned by it." [Remington USD20]
"Dose, sixty to one hundred and twenty grains (3.9-7.7 Gm.). Filmaron has been used clinically in doses of fifteen to twenty grains (1.0-1.3 Gm.)." [Remington USD20]

ASPIDIUM.
"The rhizome of Dryopteris Filix-mas and of Dryopteris marginalis, Asa Gray (Nat.Ord. Filices). World-wide ferns of the Northern Hemispheres. Dose, 1 to 4drachms."
"Principal Constituents.—Oils, resins, filicin, and filicic acid, the poisonousprinciple."
"Preparation.—Oleoresina Aspidii, Oleoresin of Aspidium (Oleoresin of Male Fern).Dose, 30 grains but once a day. Do not give with oils."
"Action and Toxicology.—When freely absorbed the oleoresin causes nausea, vomiting, purging, severe abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, muscular prostration, tremors, cramps, dyspnea, cold perspiration, cyanosis, collapse, and death. In some cases amblyopia results, and permanent visual and aural disturbances have resulted from its toxic action. Unless the doses are excessive or frequently given, or given with oil, as castor oil, such accidents are less likely to occur. The treatment consists in stimulation by ammonia and purging by Epsom salt."
"Therapy.—A most certain taenicide, effectually removing tapeworm, especially the Bothriocephalus latus and the Taenia solium, and said to be less effective upon the Taenia medio-canellata. Prepare the patient in the usual manner over night for the administration of taenicides by purging and fasting. In the morning administer 30 grains of the oleoresin in capsules or flavored emulsion, follow at midday with a full meal without fats, and in the evening give a brisk saline cathartic. Under no circumstances must oils, especially castor oil, be given with it during the treatment. They favor absorption of the filicic acid, thought to be the toxic principle. Aspidium is seldom used; the oleoresin being preferred. The latter is also effectual against the hookworm ( Uncinaria americana)." [Felter EMM]

Native American Ethnobotany [Moerman NAEth]
Dryopteris arguta (Kaulfuss) Watt, Coastal Woodfern
  • "Drug-Costanoan Dermatological Aid Infusion of fronds used as a hair wash. (21:5) Mewuk Antiemetic Decoction of roots taken for vomiting. Antihemorrhagic Decoction of roots taken for spitting blood and other internal bleeding. (as D. rigida arguta 117:366)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Food-Costanoan Unspecified Rhizomes gathered in spring and eaten. (21:247) Thompson Unspecified Rootstocks used for food. (187: 88) Yurok Cooking Agent Leaves used to clean meats and to layover meat to keep the flies off. (6:28)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Other-Karok Cooking Tools Leaves used to clean eels. Yurok Containers Leaves used to clean meats and to layover meat to keep the flies off. Designs Spores used to make designs on hands. (6:28)" [Moerman NAEth]
Dryopteris carthusiana (Vill.) H. P. Fuchs, Spinulose Woodfern
  • "Drug-Bella Coola Antidote Root eaten as an antidote for poison from eating shellfish in early summer. (as Aspidium spinulosum 150:48)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Food-Alaska Native Unspecified Old leaf stalks on the underground stem roasted, peeled, and the inner portion eaten. Vegetable Young, curled fronds boiled or steamed and eaten like asparagus with butter, margarine, or cream sauce. (as D. spinulosa 85:29)" [Moerman NAEth]
Dryopteris expansa (K. Pres!) Fraser-Jenkins & Jermy, Spreading Woodfern
  • "Drug-Klallam Dermatological Aid Poultice of pounded roots ap- plied to cuts. Snohomish Dermatological Aid Infusion of leaves used as a hair wash. (as D. dilatata79:14)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Food-Clallam Unspecified Rhizomes used for food. (as D. dilatata 57:194) Cowlitz Unspecified Rhizomes pit baked overnight and the insides used for food. (as D. dilatata79:14) Eskimo, Alaska Soup Fid- dleheads, with the chaffy coverings removed, added to soups. Unspecified Fiddleheads, with the chaffy coverings removed, boiled and eaten with seal oil and dried fish. (as D. dilatata 1:34) Thompson Unspecified Rootstocks used for food. (as D. assimilis 187:88)" [Moerman NAEth]
Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott, Male Fern
  • "Drug-Bella Coola Antidote Rhizomes eaten raw to neutralize plant and shellfish poisoning. (184:197) Cherokee Anthelmintic Infusion of root taken for worms. (80:34)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Food-Bella Coola Dietary Aid Rhizomes eaten raw for losing weight. Unspecified Rhizomes eaten raw or steamed. (184:197)" [Moerman NAEth]
Dryopteris sp., Woodfern
  • "Drug-Kitasoo Antidote Rhizomes used as an antidote for food poisoning. (43:312)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Food-Haisla & Hanaksiala Forage Rootstocks eaten by mountain goats. Hanaksiala Unspecified Rhizomes, rootstocks, and stipe bases steamed and eaten. (43: 149) Kitasoo Vegetable Rhizomes and stipe bases used for food. (43:312) Oweekeno Unspecified Roots used for food. (43:53) Thompson Unspecified Rootstocks used for food. (187:88) · Fiber-Iroquois Mats, Rugs & Bedding Made into pillows and used by children under their lower backs to prevent bed-wetting. (142:82)" [Moerman NAEth]
  • "Other-Haisla & Hanaksiala Containers Fronds used to pack freshly caught salmon to prevent them from drying out. (43:149) Oweekeno Ceremonial Items Roots used as a shamanistic device in the tsaika ritual. (43:53)" [Moerman NAEth]

References


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