Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Cinnamon Fern
Osmunda cinnamomea
Osmundaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    A decoction of the root has been rubbed into affected joints as a treatment for rheumatism[257]. The root has been chewed, a small portion swallowed and the remainder applied to a snakebite[257].

    The following reports do not state which part of the plant is being used, though it is most likely that the root is being referred to.

    The plant is analgesic, antirheumatic and galactogogue[257]. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of headaches, joint pain, rheumatism, colds etc, and also to promote the flow of milk in a nursing mother[257].

  • Edible Use

    The young unexpanded fronds are eaten as a nibble or cooked in soups[46, 61, 62, 116, 159, 183, 257]. The taste is said to resemble asparagus[200]. The young shoots are seen as a ‘spring tonic’ to cleanse the body with fresh green food after a long winter eating mainly stored foods[257]. The latent buds can be eaten in early spring, they rival chestnuts in size and flavour[95].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].

Cultivation & Habitat

Spores – they very quickly lose their viability (within 3 days) and are best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil in a lightly shaded place in a greenhouse. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Plants develop very rapidly, pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old. Cultivars usually come true to type[200]. Division of the rootstock in the dormant season. This is a very strenuous exercise due to the mass of wiry roots[200].
Easily grown in a damp woodland or by the margins of pools and streams[187]. Likes a soil of swamp mud and loamy or fibrous peat, sand and loam[1]. Succeeds in most moist soils, preferring acid conditions[200]. Requires a constant supply of water, doing well by ponds, streams etc[1]. Plants thrive in full sun so long as there is no shortage of moisture in the soil and also in shady situations beneath shrubs etc[200]. Requires a shady position[188]. Plants are hardy to at least -20¡c, they are evergreen in warm winter areas but deciduous elsewhere[200]. This species is sometimes cultivated for its edible fronds[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. A very ornamental plant[1]. The rhizome is large and slowly creeping[187].
Eastern N. America, S. America, E. Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.