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Common Polypody

John Cousins (April)



I found this common polypody, Polypodium vulgare on a ruined wall on the lower slopes of Moel Cynghorion.
The fronds with triangular leaflets measure 10 to 50 centimetres. They are divided all the way back to the central stem in 10 to 18 pairs of segments or leaflets. The leaflets become much shorter at the end of the frond. The leaflets are generally whole or slightly denticulated and somewhat wider at their base, where they often touch each other. They have an alternating arrangement, those on one side being slightly offset from those on the other side.
You can see the seed-bearing 'sori' are found on the lower side of the fronds and range in colour from bright yellow to orange. They became dark grey at maturity and are dispersed by wind from July to September.
This fern is found in shaded and semi-shaded locations. It is found on old walls, cracks in rocks, the bases of trees and in rocky undergrowth. It prefers chalky soils but you can see it commonly settled on the acid rocks in old walls.
It seems the root has a bittersweet taste and has traditionally been used in some confectionary such as nougat for its aromatic properties. For 2000 years the dried root has been used to ward off parasites, as a laxative and an expectorant .






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