Herb: Marsh Fern

Latin name: Thelypteris palustris

Synonyms: Dryopteris thelypteris, Lastrea thelypteris

Family: Thelypteridaceae (Maiden Fern Family)

Medicinal use of Marsh Fern:

The roots have been used in the treatment of women's complaints.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Marshes and fens, often abundant in carr or alder wood.

Edible parts of Marsh Fern:

Edible young fern. The part that is eaten is not specified, it is likely to be the young leaves as they unfurl in spring and early summer.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Marsh Fern:

Marshes and fens, often abundant in carr or alder wood.

Known hazards of Thelypteris palustris:

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.