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HISTORY OF FERNS Roughly 12,000 species -Pteridophyta.

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1 HISTORY OF FERNS Roughly 12,000 species -Pteridophyta. Reproduce via spores, no seeds- no flowers. Some recent authors have used the term monilophytes . Ferns fossil record 360 mill. years –Carboniferous-many current families & species ± 145 mill. years old, early Cretaceous (after flowering plants came to dominate).

2 Liquidamber orientalis; Epigaea gaultheroides








10 Word “medicine” generally translates to mean “mystery”. 
All of nature comes from the Great Mystery, the mystery of life. Who is to say, therefore, that there is not a design beyond everyday comprehension that brings forth certain plants in abundance for the sake of healing? “Everything happens for a reason”.   

11 FERN ETHNOBOTANY Ferns: -grown or gathered for food, -ornamental plants, -remediating contaminated soils, -remove some chemical pollutants from the air, -play role in mythology+medicine + art.

12 Homeopathic practitioners have found medicinal uses: Oil from roots used to expel parasitic worms in humans. Liquid extract, powder, pill form. Veterinarians offer animals powdered form + honey to treat intestinal parasites.

13 Black spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L
Black spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L. can be used to treat diarrhea and other disorders-scientific name +common name "spleenwort" -from an old belief, based on the doctrine of signatures, that the fern was useful for ailments of the spleen, due to the spleen-shaped sori on the backs of the fronds. "-wort" is an ancient English term that simply means "plant"  Maidenhair fern (Adiantum) functions as a remedy for lung problems. France-a cough syrup is made from the maidenhair's fronds and roots called Sirop de Capillaire.

14 Maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustm)
Black spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L.

15 Roots of the royal fern can help cure jaundice during its early stages, promote healing when applied to wounds. Ferns as Food Roots, or rhizomes, of many fern species are eaten as a rich source of carbohydrates. Osmunda regalis

16 Bracken fern, although carcinogenic, can be used in place of hops (Humulus lupulus) to ferment beer.
Japanese eat large quantities of bracken fern-highest incidences of stomach cancer in the world. Bracken Fern-Pteridium aquilinum

17 Cooked, raw, or used in a beverage, ferns have many culinary purposes.
Fragrant woodfern can be dried, made into herbal tea. Crozier, or curled fiddlehead a delicacy-added to salads as raw; boiled in salt water to remove hairs & scales until soft enough to eat. Well-known fiddlehead fern, delicious spring time food, has a both nourishing & cleansing quality. Wood Fern: Dryopteris campylopteris

18 fiddleheads Black spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L. Maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustm)

19 Ferns have fiddleheads expand into delicately divided fronds.
Fiddleheads or Fiddlehead greens are the furled fronds of a young fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. Left on the plant, each fiddlehead would unroll into a new frond.

20 Fiddleheads harvested early in the season before the frond has opened, cut fairly close to the ground. Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, & high in iron + fibre.

21 Certain varieties have been shown to be carcinogenic.
Fiddlehead resembles the curled ornamentation (called a scroll) on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a violin. Also called crozier, after the curved staff used by bishops.

22 Helping the Environment
Ferns useful for soils, minimize soil erosion & promote stabilization & clean environment. Root system -long, thin, horizontal web of rhizomes below the soil's surface- adds stability + moisture to the soil - soft elegance to garden landscape. Asia-farmers use Azolla fern, an aquatic species, as "green" manure to fertilize rice crops.

23 Azolla -a "super-plant“, draws down tonnes of N/ha/year (0
Azolla -a "super-plant“, draws down tonnes of N/ha/year (0.25 kg/m²/yr)=6 tonnes / acre of C drawdown (1.5 kg/m²/yr). Uses atmospheric N for growth, main limit to growth availability P. C,N,S arbon, as 3 of the key elements of proteins, and P required for DNA, RNA and in energy metabolism. Grows at great speed in favourable conditions – modest warmth and 20 hours of sunlight, both were in evidence at the poles during the early Eocene – and can double its biomass over 2-3 days in such a climate.


25 Plants form intimate symbiotic associations or "marriages“ (Algae +Fungi=Lichens; N-fixing bacteria-symbiotically inside the root nodules of legumes). Divorce is practically nonexistent -separations result in the death of one or both partners. Relationship may be decidedly one-sided-only one partner actually benefiting.

26 Most fascinating of all plant marriages is tiny aquatic water fern (Azolla) and a microscopic filamentous blue-green alga or cyanobacterium (Anabaena azollae). Grow together at the surface of quiet streams and ponds throughout tropical and temperate regions of the world. Azolla  the "duckweed fern" grows with 1 or more species of duckweeds (Lemnaceae), including Lemna,  Spirodela, Wolffia &  Wolffiella.

27 In 11 months covers an area of 199 km2, can increase to 1002 km2.
Azolla may produce reddish anthocyanin in the leaves, in contrast with the bright green carpets of duckweed and filamentous green algae in summer. African water fern (Salvinia rotundifolia),( S. auriculata) - mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records (1985 UK Edition) as “most intransigent weed.” In 11 months covers an area of 199 km2, can increase to 1002 km2. Salvinia rotundifolia

28 Traditional cultivation as a bio-fertilizer for wetland paddy; used for sustainable production of livestock feed. Rich in proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins + minerals; as a food stuff for human consumption. Feeding azolla to dairy cattle, ducks, chickens-increases milk production, weight of broiler chickens & egg production.

29 Used for over 1000 years in rice paddies as a companion plant-fix N, block light to prevent competition from other plants. Azolla spp. used to control mosquito larvae in rice fields. Thick mat on water surface -more difficult for the larvae to reach the surface to breathe, effectively choking the larvae.

30 Paleoclimatological Importance: Azolla event Theory
Arctic  reports  Azolla may have had a significant role in reversing an increase in greenhouse effect that occurred 55 mil. years ago caused the region around the N pole to turn into a hot, tropical environment. Massive patches of Azolla growing on freshwater surface of the Arctic Ocean consumed enough  CO2 from the atmosphere for the global greenhouse effect to decline. Formation of Ice sheets in Antarctica and the current "Icehouse period“ started.

31 Adiantum pedatum    MAIDENHAIR 
(ASOMPS,A.capillus-veneris:against hair loss=Finasteride,Iran) (A.venusatum: Murree,Galyat,Mujeeb-ur-Rehman et al.,) Maidenhair used for rheumatism (the effect on contracted muscles likened to the uncurling fiddleheads)- the compound decoction or decoction of root applied with warm hands as external rub, or infusion internally.  Infusion or decoction of whole plant used as an emetic for fever +fever with chills. 

32 Adiantum capillus-veneris
Adiantum pedatum

33 Powdered leaves smoked for heart trouble; snuffed or smoked for  asthma. 
Used for paralytic attacks, from pneumonia in children.  Sacred preparation of whole plant used specifically for women’s irregular heartbeat. 

34 Maidenshair - powerful medicine for  heart.
Decoction used to purify the blood & for stomach troubles.  Ashes mixed for shortness of breath, produce strength & endurance, green fronds used likewise. 

35 1-Fronds chewed for weak stomach
1-Fronds chewed for weak stomach. 2-Compound decoction of the root for dysentery. 3-Root + Stem mix used for children. 4-Blade+stem+root used in the gynecology. 5-Used in decoction for fits. 6-Infusion of the root used for caked breasts. 7-Poultice of plant applied to sore back of babies. 8-Wet fronds poulticed for snakebite.

36 Decoction-as wash for venereal disease -gonorrhea. 
As poultice or wash for bleeding, insect stings, snakebites, arthritis & hairloss. For endurance in ceremonial dancing- infusion used, especially in winter, to prevent fatigue.  Such uses + sacred preparation practiced indicate fern was regarded as a sacred medicine. 

37 1-Black stems as a hunting charm. 2-ssp
1-Black stems as a hunting charm. 2-ssp. pedatum used for children’s cramps, as decoction. 3-Decoction of green roots used as a foot soak for rheumatism + taken internally. 4-Decoction of roots taken as a diuretic for the cessation of urine due to stones. 5-Compound decoction or infusion taken for excessive menstruation. 6-Decoction of roots used for abortion.

38 abortion or delivery pains,  
antirheumatic, emetic, diaphoretic, cardiotonic, stimulant, alterative, astringent,  antispasmodic,  emenagogue, andantiseptic.   Dry & cool, with an affinity for the heart & reproductive system.

39 Decoction used as emetic, as compound for swollen breasts.
Asplenium rhizophyllum-WALKING FERN Decoction used as emetic, as compound for swollen breasts. Asplenium tricomanes    MAIDENHAIR SPLEENWORT Used for breast diseases, coughs, liver ailments.

40 Asplenium rhizophyllum
Athyrium felix-femina

41 Athyrium filis-femina    LADY FERN 
Ssp. angustum used for intestinal fevers, and for mens venereal disease.  Other varieties used for pain, cancer, sores, vomiting blood, and for sore eyes.  Root tea as diuretic, for breast pains caused by childbirth, and for caked breasts, Stem tea used to ease labor.

42 Used for women’s headaches, with Willow and plants for calming female anxiety.
Root used in compound decoction for stopped urine; grated and dried for sores.  Stem infusions used for pain.  Unfurling fronds used for internal ailments as with women’s womb. 

43 Decoction of pounded stems used to ease labor pains. 
Root decoction usred for bosom pains caused by childbirth, infusions for caked breasts and other female disorders.   Ssp. cyclosorum  used as a wash for sore eyes as a simple or compound root decoction.

44 Botrychium virginianus ssp. virginianus

45 Botrychium virginianum    RATTLESNAKE FERN
Ssp. virginianum as cough medicine for tuberculosis - cold infusion of root.   Root decoction as emetic,as concentrated syrup for external use on snakebites, juice from the frond used for insect bites & stings. 

46 Used as demulcent & for children’s medicine. 
Poultice of fresh root for snakebite, as a repellant, as a  diaphoretic &expectorant, and the root decoction as emetic.  Used for lung trouble- tuberculosis; poulticed root used on cuts.       

47 Cystopteris fragilis

48 Cystopteris fragilis    FRAGILE FERN
As compound infusion for injury.  Dennstaedtia punctilobula    HAY-SCENTED FERN  As compound infusion for chills, for lung hemorrhages.

49 Common fern, Pteridium aquilinum (bracken Or
  Common bracken) forming thick patches in the forest under-story.  Sign of imbalance in the ecosystem, as it grows excessively due to deer overbrowse.  Hay-scented Ferns (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) along with invasive plants like Barberry (Berberis most important wild medicinal herbs) and Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) can be harvested without concern.                 

50 Heyscented fern: Dennstaedtia punctilobula sori

51 Antibiotic use becoming more rampant & destructive to our health-Barberry spreads with vigor -offering as a replacement of our favorite drugs.  Japanese Polygonum sps. seem to spread in areas struggling with high rates of Lyme disease.                           

52 There must be a reason why Hay-scented Fern grows in such abundance. 
There also must be a reason why deer avoid it in favor of other food.  Perhaps it has some toxic properties, which would relate to medicinal properties.                                             

53 Dryopteris campyloptera    MOUNTAIN WOOD FERN 
Used with tree bark for cuts and other skin problems; Leaves used in compound decoction for stomachache and intestinal discomfort, young shoots for womb cancer. Dryopteris carthusiana    SPINULOSE WOOD FERN  Root eaten as an antidote for poison from eating early summer shellfish. Dryopteris cristata    CRESTED WOOD FERN   Root infusion used for stomach trouble.

54 Dryopteris carthusiana Dryopteris carthusiana
Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris marginalis

55 Dryopteris cristata Dryopteris campyloptera

56 Dryopteris filix mas Dryopteris filix mas

57 Dryopteris marginalis MARGINAL WOOD FERN Spinulose W. F
Dryopteris marginalis    MARGINAL WOOD FERN   Spinulose W. F. Dryopteris carthusiana. Root infusion used for Rheumatism,  toothache, as  emetic, indicating a warm,  dry energetic nature. Matteuccia struthiopteris    OSTRICH FERN  Decoction of sterile leaf stalk base used for  back  pain. 

58 Matteuccia struthiopteris

59 As poultice + infusion for whitish urine,  analgesic,  diuretic, with affinity to the reproductive & urinary systems.  Kidney tonic, as the kidneys rule the back, reproductive system, and urinary system in Chinese medicine.

60 Onoclea sensibilis    SENSITIVE FERN 
For arthritis, infection, blood disorders (blood deficiency, cold in the blood, and others), intestinal troubles, weakness (root decoction) and pain (root infusion) after childbirth, tuberculosis (decocted formula), infertility. Venereal disease-compound decoction taken; for gonorrhea-compound infusion; mens venereal disease -infusion of the plant and female rhizomes. 

61 Onoclea sensibilis

62 Externally used for sores (cold compound infusion), deep cuts (poultice), non-flowing breasts (infusion of whole plant or roots), and venereal disease. Root decoction specifically used for intestinal troubles “when you catch cold and get inflated and sore”, a warming effect on the digestive system-affinity to the blood(Builds, regulates, & invigorates (warms and moves) the blood. 

63 Fermented compound decoction used to “make blood”, taken before meals.
Used as a hair wash (traditional Chinese Medicine hair loss is considered to be a sign of “blood deficiency”). Use of root decoction for fertility and blood a result of the blood building nature of Sensitive Fern.

64 Achillea mellifolia

65 Panax notoginseng Use of the poultice on deep cuts  for staunching the blood.   Herbs that regulate the blood, such as Tienchi Ginseng (Panax notoginseng) and Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) can be used for a wide array of blood disorders. 

66 Osmunda cinnamomea CINNAMON FERN
Used externally for rheumatism (decoction), venereal disease (compound infusion); decoction taken for headache, joint pain, colds, venereal disease, malaise. Compound decoction used for chills, as a diaphoretic, fronds cooked as a spring tonic. Decoction of roots (sometimes in compound, with Christmas Fern) used externally for rheumatism, for women’s troubles.  For snakebites-root chewed, some swallowed, rest applied as a poultice. Promote the flow of milk and for caked breasts.

67 Osmunda regalis Osmunda cinnamomea Osmunda calytoniana

68 Osmunda claytoniana INTERRUPTED FERN
Interrupted Fern used in cold, compound decoction for weak blood and in compound decoction for gonorrhea. Osmunda regalis    ROYAL FERN   Used for children with convulsions from intestinal worms, as an infusion with Wild Ginger (Asarum).  Women use decoction (fronds in 1½ cup of water down to ½ cup, to be used up in a day) for  “when a woman catches cold in her kidneys. 

69 Polyopdium virginianum ROCK CAP
Compound decoction used for cholera, whole plant decoction for stomach aches.  Used for heart disease, infusion of pounded roots used for pleurisy (or pleuritis-an inflammation of the pleura, the lining surrounding the lungs). Decoction of leaf used for tuberculosis.  Roots chewed for sore, swollen throat, poulitice used for inflamed swellings , wounds. Rhizome used for colds, stomachache, sore throats.   

70 Infusion of crushed stems used for measles.
Baked or raw roots used for coughs, peeled stems for coughs.  Rhizomes used for colds, stomach ailments, and sore throats.  Used for lung congestion and as a laxative, definitely a lung medicine.

71 Polystichum acrostichoides    CHRISTMAS FERN 
Used for children’s cramps (decoction), children’s convulsions (poultice), diarrhea (compound decoction), rheumatism (foot soak), weak blood (cold compound decoction), toxic blood, red spots on children’s skin (poultice), fevers (decoction of frond with small leaves), tuberculosis (root infusion as emetic), dyspepsia (root infusion as emetic), and venereal disease. 

72 Polystichum acroclose

73 Roots used as a “lady’s medicine”, plant taken after birth to clean the womb. 
Powder inhaled and coughed up by men who cannot talk.  Poultice of smashed roots applied to the back & head for children’s convulsions + red spots. Poultice applied to back and feet of children with back troubles. 

74 Used for rheumatism, chills, fever, stomach ache, bowel problems, pneumonia, toothache. 
Decoction or cold infusion with Dogwood (Cornus) used as a wash or poultice for rheumatism.  Combined with Cinnamon Fern for rheumatism, cuts, roots used for hoarseness.


76 Cornus genus 30–60 species of woody plants in the family Cornaceae, Part used: Fruit.
Useful components:  Sugar, organic acids, tannins, vitamin C. Recognized as a medical plant from ancient times, mainly due to its astringent properties. Traditionally applied in cases of fevers (bark, shoots, root) and diarrhea (fruit). Used for various ailments: stomach aches and cramps, diarrhea, different skin infections, intestinal parasites and hemorrhoids. Cornus florida proven to prevent the spread of malaria,bark rich in tannin, used as a substitute for quinine) .

77 Use in gynecology, along with rheumatism, blood disorders, fevers, and lung disorders; but stands out as a remedy for children’s ailments. Finds a high percentage of its uses external, internally it is emetic, at least one use of the fronds specifies that small leaves should be used indicates that there is some toxicity. 

78 Pteridium aquilinum    BRACKEN FERN
Decoction used for diarrhea, for rheumatism, for weak blood, for uterine prolapse, for suffering after birth (decoction), for tuberculosis (during the early stages), for venereal disease.  Decoction was taken to make “good blood” after menses and after birth, probably a combination of blood building and blood purifying. 

79 Pteridium aquilinum

80 Compound decoction taken by men to retain urine
Compound decoction taken by men to retain urine. Bracken used for stomach cramps & kidney disorders. Root used as a tonic, for nausea,vomiting, infections , “cholera-morbus”. Bracken mixed with Fennel used for children’s colds and females with nursing or bladder problems (as a medicine of the East).

81 Mixed with Balsam Fir, Horse Chestnut, and Seven Bark, Bracken used for burns & sores. 
Combined with Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) used for intestinal worms. Decoction of ground roots used for chest pain.  Fiddleheads used for cancer. 

82 P. aquilina fronds used as bedding to strengthen the backs of babies and for the elderly. 
P. aquilina roots used for burns (pounded and heated),decoction used for caked breast. Root infusion used for stomach cramps and smoke from dried leaves used for headaches.

83 Thelypteris palustris    MARSH FERN
Used as a gynecological medicine.  Plants that grow in wet, marshy areas tend to have an affinity with the fluid of the bodies, my guess is that Marsh Fern as a medicinal either removes dampness or builds fluids (nourishes yin).        

84 Thelypteris palustris

85 Medicinal uses of ferns can be categorized into 5 major groups:
Reproductive system is an aspect of the traditional Chinese concept of the water element (in the 5 element theory), or of the kidneys.  Use may really belong to Cinnamon Fern.   Medicinal uses of ferns can be categorized into 5 major groups:  those used for rheumatism. those used for the lungs.    those used for gynecology. those used for the blood. those used for digestion.     

86 Rheumatism Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum) used for rheumatism.
Marginal Wood Fern(Dryopteris marginalis) used for rheumatism. Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) used for arthritis. Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) used externally for rheumatism and internally for joint pain.  Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) used for rheumatism. Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) used for rheumatism. 

87 Ferns used for Lungs Maidenhair smoked for asthma.
Maidenhair Speenwort (Asplenium tricomanes) used for coughs. Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum) used as a cough medicine for tuberculosis. Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia penctilobula) used for chills and lung hemorrhages. Rock Cap (Polyopdium virginianum) used for sore throat, colds, measles, tuberculosis, cough, and lung congestion. Bracken Fern used for tuberculosis, infections, and chest pain.  Christmas Fern used for chills, fever, pneumonia, red spots on skin, listlessness, tuberculosis, and hoarseness.

88 A Sycamore covered with epiphytic Common Polypody ferns.
Polypodium vulgare Polypodium virginianum Polypodium virginianum

89 Gynecology (including menstrual, postpartum, and breastfeeding)
Walking Fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum) used topically and as emetic for swollen breasts. Maidenhair Speenwort used for irregular menses and breast diseases.

90 Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris)used as a gynecological medicine.
Lady Fern (Athyrium filis-femina)used for mothers with intestinal fevers and to prevent water breaking. Mountain Wood Fern (Dryopteris campyloptera) used for disease of the womb. Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) used as decoction of sterile leaf stalk base for the expulsion of afterbirth and for back pain. Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) used for infection, blood disorders (blood deficiency, cold in the blood, and others), and to restore the female system after childbirth.  Externally used for sores.   Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris)used as a gynecological medicine. Cinnamon Fern used for women’s troubles, caked breasts, and malaise. 

91 Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana) used for weak blood and gonorrhea.
Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) used for menstrual problems.   Bracken Fern used for weak blood, uterine prolapse, suffering after birth, caked breast, weakness, and headaches.  

92 Blood Maidenhair used as a wash or poultice for bleeding.
Lady Fern used for vomiting of blood. Hay-scented Fern used for lung hemorrhages. Sensitive Fern used for blood deficiency, cold in the blood, and other blood disorders. Christmas Fern used for weak blood and toxic blood. Interrupted Fern used for weak blood.  Bracken Fern used to make good blood after menses or childbirth.

93 Digestion (including stomachache and parasites)
Mountain Wood Fern used for stomachache. Crested Wood Fern (Dryopteris cristata) used root infusion for stomach trouble. Royal Fern used for intestinal worms. Rock Cap used for stomachaches and cholera. Christmas Fern used for stomachache, bowel problems, toothache, cramps, and diarrhea. Bracken Fern used for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, infections, diarrhea, weakness, stomach cramps, and headaches.  Sensitive Fern used for intestinal troubles.

94 133 sps. of ferns, from 41 genera, 9 families from Pakistan & Kashmir in (1972).(TR: 21 families;28 genera;85 species;99 taxa=1 endemic)+12 hybrids. (Bryophytes: 219 paper; 887 taxa:163 Liverworts, 721 mosses; 3 anthocerotopsida) Nakaike & Malik (1993) list of pteridophytes as 82 species of ferns belonging to 30 genera and 18 families + distribution in Pakistan. 36 fern species from 18 genera, 13 families in Punjab. Dryopteridaceae dominant family with, 7 species from 3 genera (Cyrtomium caryotideum, C. falcatum, C. macrophyllum, Dryopteris ramosa, D. stewartii, Polystichum aculeatum , P. lonchitis). Adiantaceae was the second largest family with 4 species (Adiantum capillus-veneris, A. caudatum, A. trapeziforme, A. venustum).

95 Aspleniaceae (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, A. ceterach, A
Aspleniaceae (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, A. ceterach, A. trichomanes) , Athyriaceae (Athyrium mackinnoni, Cystopteris fragilis, Diplazium esculentum) , Oleandraceae (Nephrolepis biserrata, N. cordifolia, N. exaltata), Sinopteridaceae (Cheilanthes pteridioides, C. farinosa, C. albomarginata); Thelypteridaceae (Ampelopteris prolifera, Thelypteris dentata,T. erubescence). Pteridaceae (Pteris cretica, P. Vittata), Salviniacae (Salvinia auriculata, S. molesta) , Marsileaceae (Marsilea minuta, M. Quadrifolia); Cryptogrammaceae (Onychium contiguum,O. japonicum).

96 Dennstaedtiaceae (Microlepia strigosa), Azollaceae (Azolla pinnata)-1 genus,1 species.
Adiantum capillus-veneris and Pteris vittata, much common. Ethnobotanically important-used by locals as ornamentals plants, food or medicine to treat various ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, skin diseases, chicken pox, stomach ulcer and acidity.

97 Salvinia minima –S.natans
Marsilea quadrifolia

98 Ephedra campylopoda Ephedra distachya

99 Horsetail-Equisetum arvense

100 Amorphyllus titanum


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