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Dryopteris expansa - (C.Presl.)Fraser-Jenkins&Jermy.

Common Name Spiny Wood Fern, Spreading woodfern
Family Dryopteridaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. The fresh plant contains 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[172]. However, there have been reports for other species of ferns suggesting that even cooked fronds can have a long term harmful effect. Some caution is therefore advised.
Habitats Cool moist woods, often on rotting logs and tree stumps[256].
Range Northern Temperate Zone, including Britain.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Dryopteris expansa Spiny Wood Fern, Spreading woodfern


Dryopteris expansa Spiny Wood Fern, Spreading woodfern
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 21.

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of fern
Dryopteris expansa is a FERN growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. The seeds ripen from July to September.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - raw or cooked[256]. Baked and then peeled before being eaten[257]. The raw root is rather bitter but they develop a sweet taste when cooked and are said by some people to develop a flavour rather like sweet potatoes[256]. The root is best harvested in early autumn. At this time the rhizomes are surrounded by scaly, finger-like projections - if the projections are flat and dark inside then the rhizomes are not good to eat but if they are round, fleshy and light-coloured then they can be eaten[256]. The young shoots, harvested in spring before they have fully unfurled, can be cooked and eaten[257]. They can be added to soups[257].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Poultice.

A poultice of the pounded roots has been applied to cuts[257]. We have no other reports for this species, but the following uses apply to many members of this genus and quite probably also to this species[K]. The root contains ‘filicin’, a substance that paralyses tapeworms and other internal parasites and has been used as a worm expellent[4, 172, 238]. It is one of the most effective treatments known for tapeworms - its use should be immediately followed by a non-oily purgative such as magnesium sulphate in order to expel the worms from the body[238]. An oily purge, such as caster oil, increases the absorption of the fern root and can be dangerous[238]. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use, it should not be stored for longer than 12 months[238]. This remedy should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. The root is toxic and the dosage is critical[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. The root is also used in the treatment of dandruff[4, 172].

Other Uses

Hair.

An infusion of the leaves has been used as a hair wash[257].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant[233], it prefers an acid to neutral soil, succeeding in ordinary fertile soil in a shady position[175, 200]. Prefers a moist soil[188]. Closely related to D. dilatata and hybridising where their ranges meet to produce D. x ambroseae. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].

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Propagation

Spores - can be sown at any time of the year in a greenhouse. Surface sow on a sterilised compost and keep moist, possibly by placing the pot in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c. Pot up small clumps of the plants when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Division in spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Dryopteris barbigera 04
Dryopteris blandfordii 04
Dryopteris carthusianaNarrow Buckler Fern, Spinulose woodfern24
Dryopteris crassirhizomaCrown Wood-Fern14
Dryopteris cristataCrested Wood Fern04
Dryopteris dilatataShield Fern24
Dryopteris filix-masMale Fern24
Dryopteris fragransFragrant Woodfern10
Dryopteris marginalisMarginal Woodfern, Leather Wood Fern04
Dryopteris odontoloma 04
Dryopteris oreadesMountain Male Fern04
Dryopteris schimperiana 04
Dryopteris sieboldii 10

 

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Expert comment

Author

(C.Presl.)Fraser-Jenkins&Jermy.

Botanical References

200

Links / References

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