Herbs & Plants

Polypodiurn vulgare

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Botanical Name :  Polypodiurn vulgare
Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Polypodium
Species: P. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida /Pteridopsida (disputed)
Order: Polypodiales

Synonyms: Polypody of the Oak. Wall Fern. Brake Root. Rock Brake. Rock of Polypody. Oak Fern.

Common Name :common polypody

Habitat :The common polypody is very common in France, where it is found up to an altitude of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). It is also quite common in Scandinavia and Carpathian Mountains. It is present but less commonly found around the Mediterranean region.
It is an introduced species in New Zealand, that has begun to spread into the wild as an invasive species. It grows on Rocks, walls and trees, as well as on the ground, in a variety of habitats but especially in humid shady conditions.


Polypodium vulgare is an evergreen fern developing in isolation from along a horizontal rhizome. The fronds with triangular leaflets measure 10 to 50 centimetres.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in leaf 12-Jan.

They are divided all the way back to the central stem in 10 to 18 pairs of segments or leaflets.

The leaflets become much shorter at the end of the frond. The leaflets are generally whole or slightly denticulated and somewhat wider at their base, where they often touch each other. They have an alternating arrangement, those on one side being slightly offset from those on the other side. The petioles have no scales.

The sori are found on the lower side of the fronds and range in colour from bright yellow to orange. They became dark grey at maturity.


*Period of sporulation: July to September.
*Mode of dissemination: anemochory (wind dispersal).

P. vulgare is an allotetraploid species of hybrid origin, its parents being the diploids Polypodium appalachianum and Polypodium glycyrrhiza.

Easily grown in most light soils. Prefers a soil of leaf mould and a cool but not too moist clay. Prefers a cool damp shady position. Thrives in dry shade. Established plants are drought tolerant. They grow well on drystone walls. Plants often grow as epiphytes. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. A rather variable plant, it is considered to be an aggregate species of several very similar species. Only the roots should be planted, the rhizome being fixed to the surface of the soil.

Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe, though they can also be sown in the spring. Sow them on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division. This is best done in the spring but it succeeds at most times of the year

Edible Uses:     
Edible Parts: Root.

Root. Very sweet, it contains sugars, tannin and oils. It is used as a liquorice adulterant. The root has a unique, rather unpleasant odour and a sweet (cloying) flavour at first though it quickly becomes nauseating. The root contains 15.5% saccharose and 4.2% glucose.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used Medicinally : The root, which is in perfection in October and November, though it may be collected until February. It is used both fresh and dried, and the leaves are also sometimes used.

Polypody stimulates bile secretion and is a gentle laxative. In European herbal medicine it is traditionally used as a treatment for hepatitis and jaundice and as a remedy for indigestion and loss of appetite. It should not be used externally since it can cause skin rashes. The root is alterative, anthelmintic, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, pectoral, purgative, tonic. It can be used either fresh or dried and is best harvested in October or November, though it can be collected until February. The leaves can also be used but are less active. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of pleurisy, hives, sore throats and stomach aches and as a mild laxative for children. It was also considered of value for lung ailments and liver diseases. The poulticed root is applied to inflammations. A tea or syrup of the whole plant is anthelmintic.

Other Uses:  
Insecticide;  Potash.
Plants can be grown as a ground cover in a shady position. They form a spreading carpet and are best spaced about 30cm apart each way. The ash of burnt leaves is rich in carbonate of potash

Known Hazards :  Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain 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.

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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