Common Polypody – Polypodium Vulgare

General – smallish evergreen fern of rock crevices, 10 – 25 cm high; fronds form a network of spreading, mat-like rhizomes.

Leaves – single; leathery, green, erect or spreading; blade elongated, tapering to a pointed tip, deeply cut almost to the central axis; leaflets almost altemate, hairiess, margins entire or shallowly toothed, blunt-tipped; central axis basically winged; leafstalk lightly scaled near the base.

Spore Clusters – spores produced in large, spherical, dot-like clusters on the undersides of leaflets; spore clusters formed in 2 rows, more abundant on upper leaflets.


Dry shaded ledges and crests in ravines, in calcareous or somewhat acid soils across Northwestern Ontario’s boreal region, east to Labrador and Newfoundland, west to Manitoba.


The fresh root used to be employed in decoction, or powdered, for melancholia and also for rheumatic swelling of the joints. It is efficacious in jaundice, dropsy and scurvy, and combined with mallows removes hardness of the spleen, stitches in the side and colic.

The distilled water of the roots and leaves was considered by the old herbalists good for ague, and the fresh or dried roots, mixed with honey and applied to the nose, were used in the cure of polyps. However, modern research has identified a carcinogenic compound in the plant and consumption is discouraged.