Herbs & Plants

Common Moonwort( Botrychium lunaria)

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Botanical Name:: Botrychium lunaria’
Family : Ophioglossaceae
Genus : Botrychium
Subgenus: Botrychium (syn. Eubotrychium)
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Psilotopsida
Order: Ophioglossales
Species: B. lunaria
Ploidy: Diploid

Synonyms : Osmunda lunaria – L.

Common Name :Common Moonwort

Habitat: It is the most widely distributed moonwort, growing throughout the Northern Hemisphere across Eurasia and from Alaska to Greenland, as well as parts of the Southern Hemisphere including South America and Australia. Widely distributed in arctic . It grows on dry grassland and rock ledges, usually on peaty soils. Meadow; East Wall In; West Wall In;


Fern growing to 0.1m. . This is a small plant growing from an underground caudex and sending one fleshy, dark green leaf above the surface of the ground. The leaf is 6 to 10 centimeters tall and is divided into a sterile and a fertile part. The sterile part of the leaf has 4 to 9 pairs of fan-shaped leaflets. The fertile part of the leaf is very different in shape, with rounded, grapelike clusters of sporangia by which it reproduces. It dies down at the end of summer; it frequently lies dormant for several seasons before re-appearing.
Trophophore stalk 0-1 mm; blade dark green, oblong, 1-pinnate, to10 x 4 cm, thick, fleshy. Pinnae to 9 pairs,spreading, mostly overlapping except inshaded forest forms, distance between 1st and 2nd pinnae not or slightly more than between  2nd and 3rd pairs, basal pinna pairapproximately equal in size and cutting to  adjacent pair, broadly fan-shaped, undivided  to tip, margins mainly entire or undulate, rarely   dentate, apical lobe usually cuneate to  spatulate, notched, approximate to adjacent  lobes, apex rounded, venation like ribs of fan,  midribs absent. Sporophores 1-2 pinnate, 0.8- 2 times length of trophophore. 2n = 90.(Wagner and Wagner 1993)

It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen from June to August.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil.


Prefers a moist free-draining soil. The prothalli (small plants formed when the spores germinate) of this species form a symbiotic relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus in much the same way as orchid seedlings. Plants can be hard to establish, they can be naturalized in a meadow or cultivated in the border where they should be left undisturbed. Unlike most species of ferns, the fronds of this species grow up straight and not curled inward, crozier fashion. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Spores – best surface sown as soon as they are ripe in a greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. Placing the pot in a plastic bag helps to maintain a humid atmosphere which promotes germination and growth. Prick out small clumps into pots when they are large enough to handle and keep moist until established. Grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter and plant out in late spring. Division. It is best not to try and disturb this plant.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Moonwort has a long reputation as a vulnerary herb, the leaves are used externally as an ointment or taken internally. They are also used in the treatment of ruptures and dysentery.

*Botrychium plants have been used as stomach medicines and tonics to stop bleeding in cancer, tuberculosis, diarrhea, inflamation of the eye, ruptures, snake bite, sores and wounds.
*According to the Doctrine of Signs, Moonwort cured lunacy, epilepsy, and sleep walking, if associated with the phases of the moon.
*Leaves also boiled in red wine, this then drank to stop beeling, vomiting, and other fluxes and to heal blows, bruises, fractures, and dislocations.
*Leaves mashed in oil to produce a salve used to stop bleeding.

Othe Uses:
*Ancients regaurded B. lunaria (moonwort) as a plant of magical power if it was gathered by moonlight.
*It was used by witches and necromancers in thier incantations.
*Silver was the metal used to influence Luna (the moon) because of her silvery colour.
*Some said that it would open locks and unshoe horses that chanced to tread upon it.
*The crecent shaped leaflets were said to indicate that this plant was governed by the moon and alchemists used it to convert quicksilver (mercury) into silver.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Click to access B-lunaria.pdf

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