Herbs & Plants

Osmunda cinnamonea

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Botanical Name : Osmunda cinnamonea
Family: Osmundaceae
Genus: Osmundastrum
Species: O. cinnamomeum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida /
Order: Osmundales

Common Name : Cinnamon Fern

Habitat : Osmunda cinnamonea is native to the Americas and eastern Asia, growing in swamps, bogs and moist woodlands.

In North America it occurs from southern Labrador west to Ontario, and south through the eastern United States to eastern Mexico and the West Indies; in South America it occurs west to Peru and south to Paraguay. In Asia it occurs from southeastern Siberia south through Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan to Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Osmundastrum cinnamomeum is a deciduous herbaceous plant  (FERN)  which produces separate fertile and sterile fronds. The sterile fronds are spreading, 30–150 cm (0.98–4.92 ft) tall and 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) broad, pinnate, with pinnae 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) broad, deeply lobed (so the fronds are nearly, but not quite, bipinnate). The fertile spore-bearing fronds are erect and shorter, 20–45 cm (7.9–17.7 in) tall; they become cinnamon-colored, which gives the species its name. The fertile leaves appear first; their green color slowly becomes brown as the season progresses and the spores are dropped. The spore-bearing stems persist after the sterile fronds are killed by frost, until the next season. The spores must develop within a few weeks or fail.

The Osmundastrum cinnamomeum fern forms huge clonal colonies in swampy areas. These ferns form massive rootstocks with densely matted, wiry roots. This root mass is an excellent substrate for many epiphytal plants. They are often harvested as osmunda fiber and used horticulturally, especially in propagating and growing orchids. Cinnamon Ferns do not actually produce cinnamon; they are named for the color of the fertile fronds.

Cultivation & propagation :
Osmunda cinnamonea is best grown on sandy or alluvial soils in swamps low woods and thickets in Eastern N. America. Spores quickly lose their viability (within 3 days) and are best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil in a lightly shaded place in a greenhouse. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Plants develop very rapidly, 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. Cultivars usually come true to type. Division of the rootstock in the dormant season. This is a very strenuous exercise due to the mass of wiry roots.
Edible Uses:
The young unexpanded fronds are eaten as a nibble or cooked in soups. The taste is saihe latent buds can be eaten in early spring, they rival chestnuts in size and flavour.d to resemble asparagus. The young shoots are seen as a “spring tonic” to cleanse the body with fresh green food after a long winter eating mainly stored foods.  The taste is said to resemble asparagus. The young shoots are seen as a ‘spring tonic’ to cleanse the body with fresh green food after a long winter eating mainly stored foods. The latent buds can be eaten in early spring, they rival chestnuts in size and flavour.
Medicinal Uses:
A decoction of the root has been rubbed into affected joints as a treatment for rheumatism. The root has been chewed, a small portion swallowed and the remainder applied to a snakebite. The following reports do not state which part of the plant is being used, though it is most likely that the root is being referred to. The plant is analgesic, antirheumatic and galactogogue. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of headaches, joint pain, rheumatism, colds etc, and also to promote the flow of milk in a nursing mother.
Known hazards : Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. 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.

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.