Health Benefits of Fern

The Samambaia is a favorite decoration plant in the 1970s and 80s that came back with everything. The scientific name of the fern is Phlebodium decumanum. Its ancestors are between 359 and 299 million years old and are from the Carboniferous Period, belonging to the Paelozoic era.

The name comes from the Tupi-Guarani sama-mbae, which means “the one who twists in a spiral”. A common plant in tropical areas of Latin America, the fern grows in shaded areas of forests, rocks and by the sea. The plant is formed by the following elements:

  • Rhizome: creeping stem, subterranean or not, without knots and covered with fabrics;
  • Rhizoids: thin and resistant, the rhizoids are at the base of the leaves;

The fern is a pterodophyte, the same group as the fern, mackerel and tree fern. The word pterodophyta comes from the Greek pteridon, “fetus” and “plant”. The name refers to the position of the baby-like buds in the womb. Proliferation is not by seeds but by seedlings, especially deer antler, you can use seedlings. Transplanting should be done when long leaves appear. Take them out with the help of a penknife, put them in the vase and fix this seedling with a piece of wire.

Many species of ferns no longer exist. There are 9 main species that cover between 9 and 15 thousand types. The shapes of the leaves look like fish bones, horns and lace. Most of them come from tropical areas and are used in decoration.


Exotic plants are in and ferns have become “cults”. In coir fiber vases and vertical panels they add charm to balconies, living rooms and even garages. They harmonize with wooden furniture environments. But, the plant is also used in event decoration.

The types of fern preferred by Brazilians are Portuguese Lace (Davallia fejeensis), Americana (Nephrolepis exaltata) and De Metro (Nephrolepis cordifolia) . But, as it is very eye-catching (the leaves can measure up to 1.5 meters) it is not recommended to fill the house with ferns. One tip is to put some together on a panel.


Do you like to get your hands dirty, or rather, down to earth? Before, let’s talk about fern species to grow at home:

  • Amazon fern (Polypodium decumanum): hanging-type plant with large, scalloped leaves;
  • American fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata): large leaves and voluminous branches;
  • Subway fern (Polypodium subauriculatum): leaves that reach 2 meters in length. Putting it on a support hanging from chains is the best way to use it;
  • French lace fern (Rumohra adiantioformis): delicate foliage somewhat reminiscent of parsley;
  • Paulistinha fern (Nephrolepis pectinata): leaves that resemble the American and the metro. It can be planted in the ground.


  • choose the vase

The ideal is to use coconut fiber vase. However, it is possible to use a ceramic vase, as long as a waterproofing material is used for the ceramic, it does not steal moisture from the plant;

  • prepare the land

Use Class A Soil Conditioner. The product is rich in organic matter and helps the fern retain water;

  • be careful with the planting

Place 5 cm of expanded clay, gravel, bidim blanket or Styrofoam to drain the vessel. Afterwards, place the Class A Soil Conditioner to the brim.

  • Pest control

The fight against slugs and snails must be with an organic slugicide. For aphids and scale insects, organic insecticide.

Now, see how to care for ferns:

  • One of the characteristics of ferns is that they are methodical. So don’t change places. Once used to the temperature, light and humidity, it can die if placed in another environment;
  • Balance light and shade as direct light burns the leaves;
  • Strong winds also burn the leaves, as well as sucking up water, especially from young ones;
  • Water whenever you notice the plant dry. Wet the earth and also spray the leaves;
  • Apply specific fertilizer once a month.


In addition to adorning environments, the fern has nutritional properties. Every 100 grams gather protein, carbohydrate, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium and zinc . Only vitamin C, the plant represents 44% of daily needs. Discover the benefits of the fern and be surprised.

  • Strengthens the immune system

The fern has selenium, zinc and vitamins A and C, substances that stimulate the production of antibodies. They are cells that act like an army, as they protect the organism from viruses, bacteria, delay cell aging, preventing diseases such as cancer.

  • protect the heart

Potassium is a substance that helps control blood pressure. Manganese helps control blood sugar levels. What’s more, magnesium balances the heartbeat, vitamin C reduces the effects of bad cholesterol (HDL) and selenium slows down the aging of the heart.

  • strengthens the bones

Fern is rich in calcium, potassium and manganese, important components for bone formation and maintenance. A diet rich in these substances helps prevent arthritis, osteoporosis and other bone diseases.

  • Prevents and fights anemia

The disease is characterized by a reduction in red blood cells. Iron and copper are minerals that stimulate the formation of these blood components. The 100 gram serving of fern has 7% of the daily iron requirements and 16% of the copper requirements.

  • Prevents eye diseases

Vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients for the eyes. It is an antioxidant, so it slows down the aging of eye structures. The 100 gram serving represents 72% of the daily dose of vitamin A. Consuming fern helps reduce the risk of night blindness and cataracts.

  • Alleviates symptoms of respiratory problems

Bronchitis and asthma attacks can be alleviated with the plant. It also helps control dry coughs from colds. The power of the fern for respiratory problems is so much that it is 5x more efficient than traditional syrups.

  • treat psoriasis

Psoriasis is a hereditary skin disease. It is characterized by whitish scales on the knees, elbows and scalp. The medical literature reports the effectiveness of the fern in the treatment of psoriasis.

  • Prevents meningitis

A viral or bacterial infection that compromises the membrane that lines the spinal cord and brain. Among the complications are memory loss, stroke and death. Consuming fern helps to ward off the risks of getting this disease, due to the presence of B-complex vitamins. This group of nutrients protects the nervous system.


  • Helps reduce risks of pancreas problems;
  • Lowers fever caused by colds;
  • Treats different types of inflammation;
  • Helps in weight loss, especially the ostrich fern because it contains fiber and only 34 calories;
  • It maintains the proper functioning of the thyroid, the gland responsible for regulating sleep, hunger, sex hormones, among other aspects of the body;
  • It helps prevent fertility problems, as it is a source of manganese.

Although it has nutritional properties, do not use the fern without medical advice. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and people with gastritis are prohibited because the plant can abort, poison the milk and aggravate stomach inflammation.


The roots and rhizomes (stems) of the fern are the parts used. Tea is made with a tablespoon of root or rhizome in 3 cups of boiling water. The fern sprout, on the other hand, is involved in controversies. It is common in stews and salads in the central area of ​​Minas Gerais and in Vale do Jequitinhonha.

In Minas Gerais cuisine, the young leaves of the species Pteridium aquilinum are boiled three times with sodium bicarbonate. After cooking, the sprouts are sliced ​​and sauteed and serve as an accompaniment to angu and pork ribs. The sprout is also part of Japanese cuisine, under the name of warabi.  Consumption in the land of the rising sun is so expressive that the sprout is imported.

But, researchers at the Federal University of Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais) claim that fern sprouts, even when boiled, are bad for you. According to them, the food has a carcinogenic component called ptachiloside. This substance, according to the article “Intoxication by Fern” published on 05/16/2016 on the Veterinary Pathology website of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, has effects similar to radiation.

The publication also states that ptachyloside can lead to addiction and also intoxicate horses, swine, sheep and rats. The University’s Animal Pathology Laboratory found 3 cases of bovine poisoning as a result of the plant.

The article reports that fern poisoning is common in wet areas. According to the text, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, east and north of the United States, south of India, Philippines and Java present cases. In Brazil, the problem is found in Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. Of all of South America, only Chile does not register poisoning, as there are no ferns in the country.

The fern is beautiful in decoration. It has options for all tastes and sizes of environments. In addition to its beauty, the plant lasts from 5 to 10 years and controls the temperature. Already the consumption of fern tea requires care. It can bring benefits, as long as it is used with medical advice. The sprout, according to data cited from scientific researches, can never be consumed. If you like healthy eating and eating plants, always read this article and preserve your health. Used responsibly, vegetables can be allies of health.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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