Hen And Chicken Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Hen And Chicken Fern
Asplenium bulbiferum
Polypodiaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Root – cooked.

    Young fronds – cooked. Used before they uncurl[183], they taste somewhat like a slightly bitter asparagus.

  • 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 – best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Germinates in spring[1]. Spring sown spores germinate in 1 – 3 months at 15¡c[134]. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse. Keep them humid until they are well established. When they are at least 15cm tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. This plant can also be propagated by means of small bulblets that form on the sides of leaves in the growing season. Pot these bulblets up when they detach easily from the parent plant and grow on in the greenhouse for at least the first winter.
Requires a moist humus-rich soil in semi-shade. Plants are probably not hardy outdoors in Britain but may be worth trying in very sheltered positions. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Australia, New Zealand.

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.