Male fern is a large perennial fern with bunched leaves. It can grow up to 100 cm high. The leaves and central stalk are covered with light brown scales. The round and brown spore sacs are in two rows on the underside of the leaves and are protected by kidney-shaped cover scales.
Male fern grows in slightly shady places in rocky groves, rocky grove slopes, cliff bases and rock fields. It can be found all over Europe. The species is also found in North America, Greenland, Russia and Central Asia.
It was given the name Male fern as it is bigger, stronger and thus more masculine than the Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). Its roots have been used to get rid of tapeworm in the past. However, it is poisonous, so it is worth leaving in the forest in peace. This fern is also called “dead man’s fist” because its spring sprout resembles a fist rising from underground.
Male fern thrives in dry areas but it still requires nutrients from its growing site. Many Male ferns’ habitats are often outside forestry uses. High cliffs and their undergrowth are classified as particularly valuable habitats under the Forest Act. The fern’s peak era was about 300 million years ago. These ferns have provided nutrition to dinosaurs.
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