Dryopteris Filix-mas, (Linne) Schott. The rhizome and stipes, yielding not less than 6.5 p.c. oleoresin, nor more than 3 p.c. acid-insoluble ash.

Habitat. N. America, N. Asia, Europe, N. Africa. (Canada, westward to Rocky Mountains, Mexico, S. America, Andes, Himalaya Mountains, Polynesian Islands.).

Syn. Male Fern, Male Shield Fern, Bear's Paw Root, Sweet Brake, Knotty Brake, Shield Root; Br. Filix Mas, Radix Filicus maris; Fr. Foug're male; Ger. Rhizoma Filicis, Farnwursel, Wurmfarn, Waldfarn, Johanniswurzel.

Dry-op'te-ris. L. Fr. Gr. ..., of the oak, growing among trees in thickets, +..., a feather, wing, or fern -- i.e., their favored place of growth.

Fil'ix-mas'. L. Filix, a fern, fr. Gr...., a fern, frond, etc., + mas, male -- i.e., referring to its assexual fructification.

As-pid'i-um. L. Fr. Gr...., a little shield -- i.e., shape of the indusium.


Tall, handsome, perennial fern; frond .3-1 M. (1-3 degrees) high or long, bipinnate, pinnae lanceolate, circular fruit dots situated on the veins, near the midrib, covererd by a heart-shaped indusium.


horizontal, 15-30 Cm. (6-12') long, 5-7.5 Cm. (2-3') thick, covered with stipe-bases, "fingers," which remain green several years and often constitute the greater bulk of the official drug; when peeled (deprived of stipes, roots) the rhizome itself is 7.5-15 Cm. (3-6') long, 1-3 Cm. (2/5-1 1/5') thick, cylindraceous, nearly straight, or curved, tapering toward one end, usually split longitudinally, roughly scarred with remains of the stipe bases, or bearing several coarse longitudinal ridges and grooves; stipes nearly cylindrical but tapering toward one end, nearly straight or somewhat curved, 3-5 Cm. (1 1/5-2') long, 8 Mm. (1/3') thick; brownish-black, if peeled -- light brown; fracture short, pale green (inner half), spongy, exhibiting an interrupted circle of 6-12 small vascular bundles (steles); odor slight; taste sweetish, astringent, bitter, acrid.


Greenish, brownish -- must be prepared freshly. Solvents: alcohol; acetone; ether -- extracting filicic acid, filicin, volatile oil, resin, chlorophyll, fixed oil, all occurring in the official oleoresin. Dose, 3ss-2 (2-8 Gm.).


Rhizomes of many indigenous ferns (chiefly Osmunda species) resembling the official, although such are thinner, free from chaff, and have stipes rarely closely imbricate, but when peeled and mixed practically defy detection; composition and properties Are less subject to change in the unpeeled, while adulterations are recognized more easily; carelessness often renders the drug unreliable.


The "uncomminuted rhizome" covered with stipes (fingers) should be collected when strongest, autumn, freed from roots and dead portions of rhizome and stipes (only such parts being retained as have green fracture), dried at 70 degrees C. (120 degrees F.), and quickly made into preparations, as it deteriorates rapidly, usually becoming inert in 1-2 years; soil and climate have greater influence upon amount of filicic acid than time of collection, etc., the richest yield being from plants growing on strata of volcanic origin.


Filicic acid 5-10 p.c., Filicin 19-31 p.c. (Rohfilicin) fixed oil 6-7 p.c., filitannic acid 10 p.c., filix red, chlorophyll, volatile oil, 2 resins, ash 3 p.c. Bohm isolates aspidin (2-3 p.c.), albaspidin, aspidimin, aspidinol, and flavaspidic acid, and claims virtue to be chiefly in aspidin and filicic acid combined; Kraft and Jaquet believe the virtue to reside in filmaron. Dose, gr. 7-10 (.5-.6 Gm.).

Filicic (Filicinic) Acid, CHO. -- Most active constituent, white, amorphous or crystalline, tasteless, more soluble than its anhydride, poisonous.  Dose, gr. 10-20 (.6-1.3 Gm.).

Filicin (Filicic Anhydride), CHO. -- Yellowish-white, non-poisonous, inactive, crystalline, soluble in most solvents except aqueous; yields with fusing potassium hydroxide butyric acid and phloroglucin.


1.  Oleoresina Aspidii.  Oleoresin of Aspidium.  (Syn., Oleores, Aspid., Oleoresin of Male Fern, Oil of Fern; Br. Extractum Filicis Liquidum, Oleum Filicis Maris; Fr. Extrait (oleo resineux) de Fougere male; Ger. Extractum Filicis, Farnextrakt, Wurmfarn-extrakt, Wurmfarnol.)


Percolate slowly, in a covered glass percolator, 100 Gm. with ether, added in successive portions, until exhausted; reclaim most of the ether on water-bath, transfer residue to a dish, allow remaining ether to evaporate spontaneously in a warm place; yield 10-15 p.c. (acetone 18 p.c.).  It is a dark green, thick liquid containing filicic acid 5-10 p.c., some of which deposits in granular crystals on standing, and must be mixed thoroughly with the liquid portion before dispensing.  Should be preserved in well-stoppered bottles.  Dose, 3ss-1 (2-4 cc.); more than 3iss (6 cc.) is dangerous, while death has occurred from 3vj (24 cc.).

Unoff. Preps.: Extract, gr. 15-30 (1-2 Gm.).  Fluidextract, 3j-2 (4-8 cc.)


Taenifuge, tonic, astringent, poisonous.


This was known to the ancients as a vermifuge, being mentioned by Discorides, Galen, Pliny, Theophrastus, etc.  In 1775 the King of France bought and made public this secret tapeworm remedy from the Swiss surgeon Nouffer's widow.  In 1775 the King of France bought and made public this secret tapeworm remedy from the Swiss surgeon Nouffer's widow. It is next to pelletierine in reliability, and valuable in uncinariasis. In giving it for tapeworm, the patient should fast the previous day, being nourished only by a little bread and milk; at night take 3j (30 cc.) of castor oil, to expel nidus, and on the following morning a full dose of oleoresin, still fasting, and 2 hours later a full dose of Epsom salt; a full dose of calomel, jalap, gamboge, or saline enema may also clear away the dead worm.


Excessive doses may produce gastro-enteritis, abdominal pain,muscular relaxation, vomiting, purging, somnolence, albuminuria, glycosuria, paralysis, temporary blindness, convulsions, collapse, coma, death.  Strong coffee, tea, tannin, empty stomach if vomiting has not been free (zinc sulphate, mustard, etc.), cardiac and respiratory stimulants--brandy, whisky, aromatic spirit of ammonia, strychnine, atropine, digitalis, morphine, artificial heat--avoid castor oil.

Allied Plants

1. Dryopteris margina'lis. -- Canada, United States, Rhizome, U.S.P. 1880-1910, similar to that of D. Filix-mas, except it has 6 steles instead of 10-20, and the round fruit dots are nearer the margin than the midrib.  D. Rig'ida (Aspidium rig'idum); S. Europe, California.  Rhizome longer, thinner, with 6 vascular bundles. D. athaman'tica (A. athaman'ticum): S. Africa.  Rhizome thicker, firmer than official, inside brownish, with black resin dots, broader vascular bundles.

Aspidosperma (one'half natural size).