Giant Holly Fern
Herb: Giant Holly Fern
Latin name: Polystichum munitum
Synonyms: Aspidium munitum
Family: Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)
Medicinal use of Giant Holly Fern:An infusion of the fronds has been used as a wash or poultice to treat boils and sores. The young shoots have been chewed and eaten as a treatment for cancer of the womb and to treat sore throats and tonsillitis. The leaves have been chewed by women to facilitate childbirth. The sporangia have been crushed and applied as a poultice to burns, sores and boils. A decoction of the rhizomes has been used in the treatment of dandruff.
Description of the plant:
(3 1/4 foot)
Habitat of the herb:There are two distinct varieties, var. munitum grows in moist coniferous woods, var. imbricans grows in rock crevices and rocky soils in dry coniferous soils. Forms extensive colonies.
Edible parts of Giant Holly Fern:Root - roasted. Peeled and then baked like potatoes. The roots were generally viewed by the native North American Indians mainly as a famine food for use when little else was available. The roots were generally harvested in the spring, before the plant came into growth then cooked and peeled before being eaten.
Other uses of the herb:The leaves are used for lining boxes, baskets, fruit drying racks etc and as a stuffing material in bedding. A decoction of the rhizome treats dandruff. Plants can be grown as a ground cover and are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way.
Propagation of Giant Holly Fern:Spores - best sown as soon as they are ripe, though they can also be sown in the spring. Sow them on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division. This is best done in the spring.
Cultivation of the herb:There are two distinct varieties, var. munitum grows in moist coniferous woods, var. imbricans grows in rock crevices and rocky soils in dry coniferous soils. Forms extensive colonies.
Known hazards of Polystichum munitum: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.