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Rustyback Fern: bricks and mortar

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Rustyback Fern: bricks and mortar

I have to say that the rustyback fern (Ceterach offinarum) is a pretty insignificant little plant! If I had not set out to find it at the location at Durlston given in Ted Pratt's excellent "Wild Flowers of Purbeck" guide I would never have found it at all. It grows in cracks in limestone and particularly in the mortar of old stone walls so it gets little nutrient and so does not grow very large. It is an amazingly tolerant little plant and can withstand drought by curling up to protect itself and then it quickly recovers when it becomes wet again. 

The fronds are green on the upper surface but if you turn them over and look at the back they have a silvery sheen when young but these become rust-coloured with age and that gives rise to its common name. 

It is a member of the spleenwort order of ferns and was once used as a herbal remedy for spleen and liver disorders although I have no idea how effective this was. It apparently contains high concentrations of phenolic compounds such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid which may be a clue to its medicinal qualities; I am no chemist so I have no idea if this is so.


 

If you would like to see the complete series that this post is part of click here ---->
This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 3 years 1 month ago

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