Botrychium erosum Milde
Botrychium negeri Christ
Botrychium ternatum Hook. & Baker
Sceptridium australe (R.Br.) Lyon
Sceptridium negeri (Christ) Holub
Common Name: Parsley Fern
Botrychium australe is a perennial fern growing 5 - 50cm tall. The plant has an erect rhizome 1 - 5cm long and thick, fleshy, contractile roots that are rich in starch. Usually only a single, succulent frond is produced each year and, in most years, sporophore are borne on a stipe 9 - 22cm long[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and scent. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.
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[
Australasia - New Zealand (North and South Islands), eastern Australia, New Guinea; S. America - Chile, Argentina
Occurs along margins, tracks and open areas in sclerophyll forest and rainforest or in grassland and along stream banks; from lowland to subalpine regions[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Botrychium australe has a very wide range from the temperate zone of South Island in New Zealand, north to the tropics of northeast Australia and New Guinea. It is also found from lowland areas to the subalpine zone. Some reports say that the plant requires greenhouse protection in all but the very mildest regions of the temperate zone[
], though with the plant's wide range it should be possible to obtain hardier material from the south of its range or at higher elevations.
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 (small 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[
Botrychium australe has contractile roots which are rich in starch and can support the plant if the single frond produced each year is damaged or lost. These roots, which can pull the plant further into the substrate, may also assist survival under very dry conditions[
The plant does not always produce a new frond - it can remain dormant under soil level for at least one year.
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[
]. The unexpanded shoots are eaten[
The plant has been used as a scent[
]. Differing reports say that the leaves or the roots were used[
Spores - best surface sown as soon as they are ripe in a greenhouse and 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. Grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter and plant out in late spring.
Division. It is best not to try and disturb this plant[