The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Lady Fern

Scientific Names

Lady Fern

  • Polypodium vulgare L.
  • Polypodiaceae
  • Fern family

Common Names

  • Brake fern
  • Brake rock
  • Brakeroot
  • Common polypody
  • Female fern
  • Fern brake
  • Fern root
  • Polypody
  • Rock brake
  • Rock polypod
  • Stone brake

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Parts Usually Used

Roots and tops
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A perennial plant; the creeping rootstock, brown and irregular in shape, shows its history in tow rows of leaf scars. The leaves, or fronds 6-12 inches high, are green, glabrous, and pinnatifid almost to the midrib, the pinnae being lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate. On the underside of the pinnae, accumulations of spore-cases take the form of golden dots arranged in a row on each side of the midveins. This herb has a peculiar, rather unpleasant odor and a somewhat sickening taste. The fruit on the lower surface of the frond is in large golden dots or capsules. Should be gathered from June to September.
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Where Found

Found all over the United States, growing in shady areas, among rocks, and on decaying tree stumps.
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Medicinal Properties

Anthelmintic, cholagogue, demulcent, purgative, pectoral
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The American pioneers soaked the starchy rootstocks in water and wood ashes for 24 hours and cooked the young leaves like pot herbs. The Native Americans knew the effect of the roots as a worm medicine; they boiled them and ate them.
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In popular usage, the infusion of lady fern is used for coughs, hoarseness, and respiratory problems. It can be used to wash external wounds. A strong decoction makes a good purgative, rickets, diseases of the spleen, hepatic diseases, and anthelmintic (especially for worms), or use a mixed tea as a purgative and an alcoholic extract for worms. Also recommended for fever, jaundice, and lack of appetite.
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Formulas or Dosages

Use the rootstock either immediately after gathering or well dried.

Decoction: boil the rootstock in water until a syrupy consistency is achieved. Take 2-8 tbsp., 3-4 times a day.

Mixed tea: use 3 tsp. rootstock and 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 8 hours and strain. Take the strained-out rootstock and add to boiling water; let steep for 1 hour and strain. Mix the two liquids and take the mixture in the course of a day, a mouthful at a time.
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Avoid during pregnancy.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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