CALABOGIE HIKER: MAIDENHAIR FERN, MEDICINAL

BLOG 11: The Maidenhair fern (Adiantum Pedatum) is beautiful and easy to find in the rich woods and limestone ravines of the Madawaska Highlands. It is distinctly shaped like a horse shoe but appears circular at first glance (see picture). Maidenhair is very delightful to view. It was highly valued in 19th century modern medicine as a cooling herb with expectorant and anti-rheumatic actions. There are several types of Maidenhairs around the world but the Canadian perennial Adiantum Pedatum was the most sought-after variety, according to Mrs. Grieves in her 1931 herbal compendium called A Modern Herbal. She states the whole fern was used in cough syrup form and administered to those with phlegmatic colds and feverish flus. As expected, First Nation peoples used the fern for the same reasons but also brewed the stems in a tea to rinse the hair, make it grow, appear darker, healthier and shinier. The earliest written mention of the medicinal properties of Maidenhair fern was by the ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD). His medical book was widely used for over 1500 years. In the 1700’s, Maidenhair Fern was an ingredient in a well-known syrup called Capilliare and was used to flavour cocktails. Today we sell this beauty of a fern in fine garden centers to enhance our yards.

{Sources: A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herb of Eastern and Central North America. Steven Foster and James Duke, 2nd Edition. Boston 2000. A Modern Herbal. Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S., 1st Edition. Great Britain 1931. Photo by Colleen Hulett. Calabogie}

MAIDENHAIR FERN

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