Monday, February 6, 2012
F ~ Fern
Ferns are a very large and ancient family of vascular plants, well represented in the environments around the state.
One of my favorite ferns is the Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza. Licorice fern will grow on rocks and in the trunks and limbs of trees, usually Big-leaf Maple. Mosses usually share the surface and become the soils for the fern. The under-surface rhizome, from which the fruiting fronds arise do taste like licorice. They were used and chewed for their flavor and can be steamed, scorched or taken raw. Occasionally I will grab on and give it a chaw. It always produces a slight cough and tingle. The effect is heightened by our cold damp air. When my throat gets raw and irritated from being in the elements, Licorice Fern rhizome does the trick.
Ferns were widely used by native people for
Fern served as a multipurpose household item. Wrapping and covering food for storage and preparation, wiping fish and stuffing mats were just a few of the useful ways this bountiful plant was used. Children of the Makah played an endurance game with Sword Fern fronds. They would pluck a leaf and say the word "pila". The one who could pluck the most leaves on one breath was the winner.