Allantodia angustatum (Willd.) Desv.
Allantodia asplenioides (Michx.) Desv.
Aspidium angustum Willd.
Aspidium asplenioides (Michx.) Sw.
Aspidium filix-femina (L.) Sw.
Asplenium cyclosorum (Rupr.) Fernald
Asplenium dombeyi (Desv.) Mett.
Asplenium filix-femina (L.) Bernh.
Asplenium michauxii Spreng.
Athyrium angustum (Willd.) C.Presl
Athyrium barnebyanum Mickel & Beitel
Athyrium contingens Ching & S.K.Wu
Athyrium dombeyi Desv.
Athyrium ensiferum Ching & H.S.Kung
Athyrium excelsium Ching
Athyrium galeottii Fée
Athyrium lancipinnulum Ching
Athyrium michauxii (Spreng.) Fée
Athyrium nudifrons Ching
Athyrium oblongum Ching
Athyrium paramicola L.D.Gómez
Athyrium paucifrons C.Chr.
Athyrium pumilio Christ
Athyrium supranigrescens Ching
Athyrium tarulakaense Ching
Athyrium tsaii Ching
Lastrea filix-femina (L.) Colomb
Nephrodium asplenioides Michx.
Nephrodium filix-femina (L.) Michx.
Polypodium filix-femina L.
Common Name: Lady Fern
Plant growing in native habitat in Niva u Volduch, Rokycany District, Czech Republic.
Photograph by: Juandev
Athyrium filix-femina is a deciduous fern producing tufts of erect fronds up to 200cm tall. Plants can spread vegetatively from stout, chaffy rhizomes, and are capable of forming large clumps[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. A very ornamental [
] and polymorphic species, it can be grown as an ornamental. There are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value[
The fresh shoots 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[
Although we have found no reports for this species, a number of ferns also contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[
Lady fern contains filicic acid and therefore may be poisonous to some classes of livestock[
Almost throughout the northern Temperate zones of Europe, North Africa, northern and western Asia and North America
Moist sheltered woods, hedgebanks and ravines[
], usually on acidic soils but also found in drier and more open habitats[
]. Meadows, open thickets, moist woods, and occasionally in swamps in N. America[
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An easily grown plant, succeeding in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade[
]. It can tolerate full sun if the soil is kept constantly moist[
].. A calcifuge plant that prefers an acid soil with a pH from 4.5 to 6.5, though it can tolerate alkaline soils if plenty of leaf mould is added[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist sheltered site with moderately high atmospheric humidity[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Young shoots, harvested before they have fully unfolded, can be eaten cooked[
]. They must not be eaten raw - see the notes above on toxicity[
]. Used in spring, they are a bitter emergency food[
Rhizome - peeled and slow-baked[
]. Reports that the root of this plant were eaten by native North American Indians are likely to be mistaken, it was probably Dryopteris expansa that was used[
A tea of the boiled stems has been used to relieve labour pains[
]. The young unfurled fronds have been eaten to treat internal ailments such as cancer of the womb[
The roots are anthelmintic and diuretic[
]. A tea of the boiled roots has been used to treat general body pains[
], to stop breast pains caused by childbirth and to induce milk flow in caked breasts[
]. The dried powdered root has been applied externally to heal sores[
]. A liquid extract of the root is an effective anthelmintic, though it is less powerful than the male fern, Dryopteris felix-mas[
A good ground cover plant[
], forming a slowly spreading clump[
]. The cultivar 'Minor' has a denser habit and spreads more freely, making a better cover[
Spores - surface sow in a pot of sterile compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep moist, this is most easily done by putting the pot in a plastic bag. Pot up small clumps of the plants when they are large enough to handle and keep them moist until they are established. Plant out in late spring of the following year.
Division in spring as plants come into growth. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.