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Leather Woodfern

(1) Dryopteris marginalis (L.) A. Gray; (2) D. filixmas (L.) Schott.

Leather woodfern
Figure 72.—Leather woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis)
Synonyms.—(1) Aspidium marginale Sw.; (2) A. filixmas Sw.

Other common names.—(1) Marginal-fruited shield fern, evergreen woodfern; (2) male fern, male shield fern, sweet brake, knotty brake, basket fern, bear's-paw root.

Habitat and range.—These ferns are found in rocky woods, the male shield fern inhabiting the region from Canada westward to the Rocky Mountains and Arizona. The marginal-fruited shield fern, one of our most common ferns, occurs from Canada southward to Alabama and Arkansas.

Description.—Both of these plants are tall handsome ferns. They differ little in their general appearance, although the male shield fern, which grows to a height of about 3 feet, is somewhat larger than the other. The principal difference is in the arrangement of the fruit dots on the backs of the fern leaves. In the male shield fern these are located along the midrib, while in the marginal-fruited shield fern they are placed on the margins of the divisions of the fronds. These ferns have stout, erect rootstocks from 6 to l2 inches in length and 1 to 2 inches thick, covered with brown, closely overlapping leaf bases and soft, brown, chaffy scales. The inside of the rootstock is pale green. It has a disagreeable odor and a bitter-sweet, astringent, nauseous taste.

Part used.—The rootstock, collected from July to September, which should be carefully cleaned, but not washed, dried out of doors in the shade as quickly as possible, and marketed at once. The drug deteriorates rapidly unless carefully preserved,

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update March 19, 1998 by aw