Acrostichum calomelanos L.
Ceropteris calomelanos (L.) Link
Gymnogramma ochracea C.Presl
Pityrogramma austroamericana Domin
Plant growing on disturbed soil beside a mountain track, near Louwsburg, South Africa, where it is not a native species
Photograph by: JMK
Pityrogramma calomelanos is a fern growing about 40cm tall.
The leaves have been used locally for medicinal purposes.
Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[
Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[
S. America - Argentina, Paraguay; north through most of S. America, Central America and Caribbean
Found at elevations from sea level to 2,500 metres in Ecuador.
A plant of low to moderate elevations in the tropics, it can also be grown in the subtropics.
The plant has become an invasive weed in several parts of the Tropics[
The leaves are used externally to heal wounds and stop bleeding[
An infusion of the whole plant is used to 'strengthen men's backs', i.e., to increase male sexual stamina, and to treat female haemorrhaging. An aqueous extract is drunk or applied locally to treat venereal disease in Guyana[
]. It is also used for asthma, cough, cold, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and whooping cough[
The root is bechic[
]. An infusion is used to treat pulmonary conditions[
An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of bronchitis, colds and stomach pains[
The leaves are crushed and used as a poultice to promote the healing of ulcers, wounds and cuts[
]. They (or the leaf juice) are also placed on wounds to stop bleeding[
The plant contains the sesquiterpene lactones pterosin (which is reportedly antibiotic) and calomelanolactone[
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