Herbs & Plants

Botrychium virginianum

Botanical Name: Botrychium virginianum
Family: Ophioglossaceae
Subfamily: Botrychioideae
Order: Ophioglossales
Species: virginianum
Genus: Botrychium
Rank: Species

Common Names: Rattlesnake Fern (Previous Name: : Botrypus virginianus)

Habitat :
Botrychium virginianum is native to N. Europe, E. Asia. N. America and S. America. It grows on rich moist or dry woods. Common to abundant, especially in shaded forests and shrubby second growth, rare or absent in arid regions from sea level to 1500 metres..

Botrychium virginianum is a perennial fern growing from a short, erect, fleshy rhizome with many fleshy roots. It produces a single frond each year, usually 25 – 70cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.This plant has long, erect, bright green, arching, 10-in. fronds that are broadly triangular and bipinnate to tripinnate. This plant has 2 large, opposite, basal pinnae and 4-5 pairs of opposite or subopposite smaller pinnae. The segments are pointed, toothed and thin-textured. Fertile fronds arise from the base of the blade. Leaf color is green.


Botrychium virginianum is a deciduous fern that is found in a wide variety climates: dry, mesic, and wet forests, coves, and most often in moist bottomlands and slopes with nutrient-rich soils. This plant prefers moist, rich woods and shade. It is one of first ferns to begin growth in spring. It has subterranean rhizomes and horizontal, coarse, shallow roots. It produces distinctive spores that rise at the conjunction of the leaves. This plant is difficult to cultivate.

Botrychium virginianum is a plant mainly found in the temperate zone, but also found in subtropical and tropical areas through central America to S. America.
Prefers a sandy loam with just a small portion of peat. Requires sharp drainage. Best grown in an open position. Plants can be difficult to establish.
The prothalli (young plants formed when the spores germinate) of this plant form a symbiotic relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus, similar to the association of orchid seedlings with an invading fungus. 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. 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.
Division. It is best not to try and disturb this plant.

Edible Uses:
This large succulent fern is boiled and eaten in the Himalayas. The report does not say which part of the plant is used, though it is probably the root.

A poultice or lotion made from the roots is applied to snakebites, bruises, cuts and sores.
A tea made from the roots is emetic, induces sweating and is expectorant. It is used in the treatment of lung ailments.

Other Uses: It is used in native garden for landscape. It attracts songbirds. The plant is deer resistant.

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


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