Tips for Growing Male Fern
Commonly known as male fern, this plant is also known as Dryopteris, Wood Fern, Bear's-paw, Shield Fern, Sweet Brake, Knotty Brake and Buckler Fern.
This plant is a member of the fern family, and has a vast dispersion throughout most of the Northern hemisphere of the planet, with the highest species diversity in the region of eastern Asia. Male Fern is quite possibly the most powerful traditional remedy for tapeworm ever documented in the history of medicine.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
Male fern is revered for its oils. Medicinal oils are extracted from the plants rhizome. In ancient Greek culture, it was used as a vermifuge, and for expelling intestinal worms.
Male Fern Cultivation and Growing Methods
The plant is a perennial.
The entire plant, including the root, leaves and flowering tops
This fern grows well in the woods in fertile, nutrient-rich, light, loamy, heavy soil, although it can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The male fern prefers acid and neutral soil in light woodland environments. The soil should also retain water and drain well.
Grows in the shade, ideally in the woods and along moist banks.
The male fern grows well in all regions of Europe, as well as temperate Asia, temperate parts of the U.S., Northern India, as well as North and South Africa and parts of South America. USDA zones 4-8.
This plant can be propagated by dividing its roots in the fall season, or by using cuttings from the plants, or by seeds sown in the fall when the seeds are ripe.
The male fern produces asexual spores in clusters. Ferns do not reproduce by seeds, but by the dispersal of spores via insects, wind, birds, etc. Spore cases on the undersides of the fern’s fronds can be harvested and dried in an envelope for later planting.
The male fern does not produce flowers, nor seeds, but spores are ripe in the spring time. Place the soil/peat in a pan with about 2 inches full of distilled water. Sprinkle the spores on the soil and cover with a piece of glass. After a few months, you will begin to see a green mossy growth on the soil. Make sure to maintain water levels throughout the growing period. After some time, leaves will appear. You can divide the ferns and replant when the stalks are approximately 2 inches (5cm) tall.
The male fern is harvested in late autumn, winter or early spring. When the fronds lie down, the plant is ready to be harvested.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Only collect the older fronds. For medicinal purposes collect a rhizome which is between 3 and 6 inches long, and those which are 1 1/2 to 2 inches or more wide. Before drying the plant, first remove any scales, dead portions and roots, as it is only optimal to dry the lower vibrant portion attached to the rhizome. Clean off any remaining soil and cut in half lengthwise and dried either in the sun, or via artificial means. Used with ether, the Male Fern gives off a dark green, liquid oil. Five well-dried fern fronds can be macerated in 200 milliliters of olive oil for a healing massage oil.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
After cleaned and thoroughly dried, store immediately in airtight boxes or glass jars.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
The main medicinal component of the male fern comes from its oil. The oil is used as an anthelmintics against tapeworm, as well as powerful purgative. The roots were also used traditionally as a healing salve for wounds, as well as a cure for rickets in the young.
Male fern contains tannis, filicin, filixid acid, phloroglucin derivatives as well as trace amounts of some essential oils.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
Yes, in correct dosages.
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Pure male fern, in high dosages is an irritant poison. Use only in small amounts. Typical dosages vary from 3 to 6 milliliters taken orally, to 45 to 90 drops of the Ethereal extract. What is more, the fresh fern holds the enzyme thiaminase, a component that robs the body of vitamin B complex.
Consult your doctor before taking Male Fern if you are pregnant or breast-feeding . Do not use male fern within 1 to 2 hours of taking an antacid, or with fats and oils, such as castor oil, nor the medications Prevacid and Prilosec.
Clinical Research About Male Fern Root
- Development of a naturally miniaturised testing method based on the mitochondrial activity of fern spores: A new higher plant bioassay. Catala M, Esteban M, Rodríguez-Gil JL, Quintanilla LG. Chemosphere. 2009 Sep 28. [PMID: 19793607]
- Antibacterial activity of two phloroglucinols, flavaspidic acids AB and PB, from Dryopteris crassirhizoma. Lee HB, Kim JC, Lee SM. Arch Pharm Res. 2009 May;32(5):655-9. Epub 2009 May 27. [PMID: 19471878]
- In vitro screening for the tumoricidal properties of international medicinal herbs. Mazzio EA, Soliman KF. Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):385-98. [PMID: 18844256]
- In vitro efficacies of oils, silicas and plant preparations against the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae. Maurer V, Perler E, Heckendorn F. Exp Appl Acarol. 2009 Jun;48(1-2):31-41. Epub 2009 Feb 20. [PMID: 19229641]
- Lust, John, N.D. "The Herb Book", Bantam Books. 1979.
- Common Male Fern. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/ferns-08.html#mal
- Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951.
- Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5
- Flora of North America. Dryopteris Adanson, Fam. Pl. 2: 20, 551. 1763. Wood fern, shield fern, dryoptère [Greek drys, tree, and pteris, fern]. James D. Montgomery.