Herb: Maidenhair Spleenwort

Latin name: Asplenium trichomanes

Family: Polypodiaceae (Polypody Fern Family)

Medicinal use of Maidenhair Spleenwort:

A tea made from the fronds is sweet, demulcent, expectorant and laxative. It has been used in the treatment of chest complaints and to promote menstruation.

Description of the plant:


40 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Walls and crevices of mainly basic rocks.

Edible parts of Maidenhair Spleenwort:

The dried fronds have been used as a tea substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Spores - best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. The spores usually germinate in the spring. Spring sown spores germinate in 1 - 3 months at 15C. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse. Keep the plants humid until they are well established. Once the plants are 15cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in the spring.

Cultivation of Maidenhair Spleenwort:

Walls and crevices of mainly basic rocks.

Known hazards of Asplenium trichomanes:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.