Young shoots - raw or cooked. They can be used like asparagus or like spinach. Somewhat flavourless, though they are considered to be a delicacy in Japan. The fronds should be used when less than 20cm long, longer ones have a terrible taste. The shoots are somewhat bitter so they are often blanched for a few minutes in boiling water, then left to soak in cold water for two hours before being cooked. Although this might well improve the flavour, it will greatly reduce the nutritional value[K]. The shoots should be steeped in lye first. Occasional use should cause no problems, but regular consumption is not advisable because the shoots might be carcinogenic.The plant yields an edible saccharine substance. (from the cooking root??).
A brown dye is obtained from the fronds. It is green according to another report. The fibrous remnants from edible roots make a good tinder. The rhizome lathers readily in water and can be used as a soap. A decoction of the root has been used as a hair wash. The roots have been rubbed into the scalp in order to promote hair growth. The roots have been pounded to remove the bark, then split into flat bands and used as the black strands of cheap baskets. The ashes of the plant are rich in potassium and could be used as a fertilizer. They are also used in the manufacture of glass (when mixed with sand) and in making soap (when mixed with vegetable oil). The roots contain up to 20% potash in early summer, but this reduces to about 5% in the autumn. The whole plant is a very valuable addition to the compost heap, it is rich in potash and makes an excellent compost for tree seeds. Cut twice a year if you want the plants to continue growing, three cuts annually will weaken and eventually kill off the plants. The dried ferns produce a very durable thatch. The leaves are used as a packing material for fruit, keeping it fresh and cool without imparting any colour or flavour. They are also used as a lining for baskets, fruit drying racks etc and as a bedding. The leaves repel insects and can help to prevent rot in the fruits etc.Dried bracken fronds are very useful in the garden as a mulch for somewhat tender plants. This will keep the soil warmer, protect from wind damage and also keep off some of the rain[4, K].
A decoction of the plant as been used in the treatment of tuberculosis. A poultice of the pounded fronds and leaves has been used to treat sores of any type and also to bind broken bones in place.The root is antiemetic, antiseptic, appetizer and tonic. A tincture of the root in wine is used in the treatment of rheumatism. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of stomach cramps, chest pains, internal bleeding, diarrhoea, colds and also to expel worms. The poulticed root is applied to sores, burns and caked breasts.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Pteridium aquilinum esculentum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.This is an extremely invasive plant and is a noxious weed. Plants can be cut down twice a year to provide compost material, this will not kill the plants. If the plants are cut down three times a year this will gradually weaken and eventually kill them.
Problems, pests & diseases
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