No. 77. Polypodium vulgare.
Classif. Nat. Order of Ferns. Cryptogamia Filices. L.
Genus POLYPODIUM. Fern with round scattered sores or clusters of capsules under the frond, without involucrum.
Sp. Polypodium vulgare. L. Caudex chaffy, stipe smooth, frond deeply pinnatifid, segments linear lanceolate, obtuse, crenulate, approximate, the upper ones smaller.
Description. Root perennial, creeping, irregular, brown, with chaffy scales extending to the caudex or base of the stipe. Frond six to twelve inches high, distiched as usual in ferns, deeply cut in approximated segments; oblong or lanceolate, obtuse, smooth, crenulate, upper ones gradually coherent and smaller. Lower surface with two rows of sores on each segment, round, naked, brown, formed by a crowd of small capsules.
History. This genus was formerly very extensive, but now contains, since the reform of the ferns, the species without involucrum; the others forming the genera, Aspidium, Nephrodium, Hypopeltis, &c. Linnaeus had called our American plant P. virginicum, but it is a mere variety of the European. It grows on rocks from Canada to Carolina; the varieties are, 1. Levigatum. 2. Multicaule. 3. Latifolium, &.c
Properties. The root is the officinal part; it has a sweet mucilaginous taste; it is pectoral, demulcent, purgative and vermifuge. The syrup of it is very good in violent coughs, the rickets of children, and the lumbago. A poultice of it with Thuya has been found useful in violent rheumatic pains. A strong decoction will act as a mild cathartic, and expel also the worms of children. The Aspidium filixmas, or Male Fern, once a Polypodium, is not a native of America: the root has been used with success, united to cathartics, to expel the tenia or tapeworm; perhaps this species is equivalent to it.