Herb: Rattlesnake Fern
Latin name: Botrychium virginianum
Synonyms: Osmunda virginianum
Family: Ophioglossaceae (Adder's Tongue Family)
Medicinal use of Rattlesnake Fern:A poultice or lotion made from the roots is applied to snakebites, bruises, cuts and sores. A tea made from the roots is emetic, induces sweating and is expectorant. It is used in the treatment of lung ailments.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Rich moist or dry woods. Common to abundant, especially in shaded forests and shrubby second growth, rare or absent in arid regions from sea level to 1500 metres.
Edible parts of Rattlesnake Fern:This large succulent fern is boiled and eaten in the Himalayas. The report does not say which part of the plant is used, though it is probably the root.
Propagation of the herb: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.
Cultivation of Rattlesnake Fern:Rich moist or dry woods. Common to abundant, especially in shaded forests and shrubby second growth, rare or absent in arid regions from sea level to 1500 metres.
Known hazards of Botrychium virginianum: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.