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Female Fern.

Botanical name:

Plate 18. Filix foemina.

A tall and spreading plant, common on our heaths, and called by the country people brakes. It grows four feet high. The stalks are round, green, and smooth: the leaves are set on each side, and are subdivided. The whole may indeed be properly called only one leaf as in the male fern; but it has more the appearance of a number because it is so ramose. The small leaves or pinnules which go to make up the large one, are oblong, firm, hard, and of a deep green colour, and they are so spread that the whole plant is often three feet wide. On the edges of these little leaves stand the seeds in small dusty clusters. But they are not so frequent on this as on the male fern, for nature has so well provided for the propagation of this plant by the roots, that the seeds are less necessary; and where it is so, they are always produced more sparingly. A certain quantity of every species is to be kept up, but the earth is not to be over-run with any.

The roots of female fern fresh gathered, and made into a decoction, are a remedy against that long and flat worm in the bowels, called the tape worm; no medicine destroys them so effectually.


The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.



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