Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-veneris) is known by these other names: Adiante du Canada, Adiante Pédalé, Venus’- hair Fern, Adiantum pedatum, Capillaire du Canada, Capillaire à Cinq Doigts, Rock Fern, Capillaire Pédalée, Cheveux de Vénus, Culantrillo, Five-Finger Fern,…
About Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-veneris)
The plant called the maidenhair fern is of great delicacy and beauty. Maidenhair fern leaves: Lustrous, dark brown to purplish-black, erect stipes 15-60 cm tall, the top of the leaf stalk divided into 2 and these divisions divided again; blade 10-40 cm across, set nearly at right angles to the leaf stalk, more or less parallel to the ground; each leaflet with oblong or fan-shaped ultimate segments smooth and flat on the lower margin and cleft into ragged, rectangular lobes on the upper margin. The ideal environment for the maidenhair fern is a wet environment – and wild ferns are found growing in abundance on limestone-rich soils which is dampened or moistened by a waterfall spray or stream.
Reproduction in ferns differs markedly from that seen in flowering plants. In early summer, spore cases in clusters called sori appear on the backs of the pinnules, concealed under their rolled-over margins in this genus. In early fall, the dustlike ripe spores are released. If they land on moist soil or moss, a few of the spores may germinate and form minute, flat green prothalli, the life forms that produce the sex organs. Eventually, if conditions continue to be favorable (moist soil, an absence of fungal diseases), a sperm will fertilize an egg, which will then divide and develop into a new plant (sporophyte).
Traditionally a fern based herbal tea was made for people with hair loss problems, this association of the fern with human hair is a very old one, and it was believed that the fern could prevent human hair from falling out of the scalp. The belief has no real basis in fact.
The ancient Greeks prepared the fern into an herbal tea and used it as an expectorant in treating coughs. The fern was also used by medieval herbalists, who used to give maidenhair fern to their patients with severe respiratory conditions, like the disorder called pleurisy – such treatments were not very successful as the maidenhead fern is not a very potent herb for medicinal usage. Traditionally, the maidenhair fern was used as a mild diuretic and often utilized to promote menstruation in women.
Benefits Of Maidenhair Fern For Health
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-veneris) is a good source of vitamin A, which is needed for good vision and a healthy immune system. Maidenhair fern also contains vitamin C and niacin.
The remedies made from the maidenhair fern are still used and prescribed by many Western herbalists. Such remedies are used in treating coughs, in the treatment of bronchitis, in reducing excess mucus, and in alleviating sore throat, as well as chronic nasal congestion affecting the person. The remedies made from maidenhair fern also possess enduring value for hair and scalp conditions.
Studies indicate that maidenhair ferns act as a contraceptive and have an anti-hyperglycemic effect. This means that maidenhair fern helps to lower blood sugar levels, which is useful for diabetics. Snake bites, bee stings and wounds can be treated using a poultice of maidenhair ferns.
Freshly obtained or dried up leafy fronds of maidenhair fern possess astringent, anti-tussive, anti-dandruff, demulcent, emetic, depurative (purifying), emollient, feebly emmenagogue, febrifuge, feeble expectorant, laxative, galactogogue, stimulant, pectoral, tonic, refrigerant and sudorific (diaphoretic or causing perspiration) properties. A tea or syrup prepared with the fronds of this fern is employed for treating coughs, bronchitis and throat problems. In addition, this syrup or tea is also utilized to detoxify the body in the case of alcoholism as well as to force out worms from the body.
People in Nepal prepare a paste from the maidenhair fern fronds and apply it to their forehead to alleviate headaches as well as to the chest to get respite from chest pains.
In the contemporary Brazilian herbal medicine, the leaf and fronds of maidenhair fern are used to treat coughs, hair loss, laryngitis, bronchitis, dryness of the throat, to augment digestion and appetite, regulate menstruation, promote the functioning of the renal system and also make child birth trouble-free.
Herbalists in India use maidenhair fern for its cooling effects, to treat diabetes, bronchial diseases, and colds in addition to its ability to promote and regulate menstruation. Preparations with maidenhair fern are also used externally to heal wounds, boils and eczema.
The fronds or hairy leaves of maidenhair fern are utilized in the form of a decoration on sweet dishes. The dried out fronds of this species are also used to prepare a tea. In addition, the herb is also used to prepare syrup, which makes a stimulating beverage during the hot summers. Maidenhair fern is also boiled in water for many hours and the resultant liquid is made into substantial syrup by adding sugar as well as orange water. Subsequently, this mixture is blended with other fruit juices to prepare a energizing drink.
Maidenhair Fern – Special Precautions & Warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to use maidenhair fern if you are pregnant. Maidenhair fern is not suitable for pregnant women as it is known to be a contraceptive. In large amounts, it can cause vomiting.
An excessive dose of the male fern extract or powder can lead to muscular weakness, coma, and even injury to the eyes.
Many ferns contain toxic substances, so it is very important that you verify from an authentic source whether the particular fern is safe for consumption. Though various ferns have many health benefits, it is advisable to take the doctor’s advice before consuming large quantities.