Herbs & Plants

Buckler Fern

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Botanical Name : Dryopteris dilatata
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Dryopteris
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Dryopteridales

Dryopteris austriaca (Jacq.) Schinz. & Thell., misapplied
Polypodium dilatatum Hoffmann
Aspidium dilatatum Sm.
Dryopteris spinulosa ssp. dilatata (Hoffm.) C. Chr.
Lastrea dilatata Presl
Nephrodium dilatatum Desv.
Polystichum dilatatum (Hoffm.) Schumacher
Thelypteris dilatata House

Common Names :Buckler Fern, Broad,Wood ferns, Male ferns,Broad buckler fern,Shield Fern

Habitat : Buckler Fern is native to Europe, including Britain, Iceland and N. Russia south and east to Spain and temperate Asia.  It  grows in woods, hedgebanks, wet heaths, shady rock ledges and crevices.


Rhizome: erect, branching.

Frond: 100 cm high by 25 cm wide, deciduous, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: 3:1.

Stipe: grooved, scales ovate-lanceolate, dark brown with a darker central stripe, vascular bundles: 3-7 in a c-shaped pattern.

Blade: 3-pinnate, ovate to lanceolate, herbaceous to somewhat leathery, linear to ovate scales below, absent above.

Pinnae: 12 to 15 pair, opposite; pinnules nearest pinnule of the lowest pinnae longer than the next one; costae grooved above, continuous from rachis to costae; margins serrate, spinulose, bending under; veins free, forked.

Sori: round, in 1 row between midrib and margin, indusium: reniform, attached at a sinus, sporangia: brown then black, maturity: midsummer to mid fall.

An easily grown plant, it prefers an acid to neutral soil, succeeding in ordinary fertile soil in a shady position. Prefers a moist soil, but is drought tolerant when well established. Plants are evergreen in mild winters. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

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 20°c. 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.

Medicinal Uses:
The root contains ‘filicin’, a substance that paralyses tapeworms and other internal parasites and has been used as a worm expellent. 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. An oily purge, such as caster oil, increases the absorption of the fern root and can be dangerous. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use, it should not be stored for longer than 12 months. This remedy should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The root is toxic and the dosage is critical.  The root is also used in the treatment of dandruff.

Dryopteris filix-mas was throughout much of recent human history widely used as a vermifuge, and was the only fern listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.

Other uses:
Buckler Fern is highly desired as garden ornamental plants, especially D. erythrosa (autumn fern, often sold in garden outlets) and D. filix-mas, a very popular garden fern in the British Isles and Europe, with numerous cultivars.

The leaves can be used as a packing material for fruit etc. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when spaced about 60cm apart each way.

 Known Hazards: A  number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. 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. 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.

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.


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