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Diplazium pycnocarpon

Diplazium pycnocarpon (Spreng.) Broun

Asplenium pycnocarpon Spreng.

Athyrium pycnocarpon (Spreng.) Tidestr.

Narrow-leaved Spleenwort

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
ClassFilicopsida“Leptosporangiate” (has to do with how their spores form) ferns—includes most ferns
OrderPolypodialesPolypod ferns
FamilyDryopteridaceaeWood ferns (about 70% of the ferns)

About plant names...

What the heck is a spleenwort? There’s an old belief, the doctrine of signatures, that plants whose shape resembles some part of the human body were meant to be used for medically treating that part. Nobody is certain when this concept originated, but in the early 1600s a shoemaker from Görlitz, Germany, one Jacob Böhme, had a vision along the same lines, and wrote a book about it. Although Böhme made no medically related claims about his beliefs, others interpreted the idea literally and began treating people.

In the case of spleenwort, the tiny sori (spore packets) on the bottoms of the leaves are shaped like spleens. ”Wort” is an ancient word meaning “plant.” So spleenwort means “plant that has something on it that looks sort of like a spleen so it must be medicine for spleen problems.”

Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)

Exhibit A: Spleen (green). From Gray’s Anatomy.

Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)

Exhibit B: Spleenwort sori. From Ferns of Northeastern United States.

And people wonder why I’m suspicious of herbal remedies.

Online References:

Diplazium pycnocarpon at Illinois Wildflowers

Diplazium pycnocarpon at Ontario Ferns

Diplazium pycnocarpon on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Diplazium pycnocarpon on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Diplazium pycnocarpon at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Diplazium pycnocarpon at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Diplazium pycnocarpon on eFloras


Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families of Northwestern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 122

Diplazium pycnocarpon description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.

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Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)


Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Diplazium pycnocarpon (Narrow-leaved Spleenwort)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Range: Zones 3-8:

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