Uses and Health Benefits of Vegetable Fern

Vegetable Fern is an edible plant that is common in Asian and Oceania countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed plants for its therapeutic properties. Fern is very useful in healing wounds because of its high Vitamin C content, 30 mg per 100 g. The vitamin C in ferns helps form collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body.

Fern plants are susceptible to cold and are suitable for warmer regions, and are gentle to freezing temperatures. They are mostly harvested and eaten in their respective native areas. The young fronds on the ferns are like stars on these plants, and they can be stir-fried as vegetables and can also be used as salads.

These ferns require moist, partly shady sites indicating that they are forest dwellers, which is the perfect condition for most plant species, and some of its types are common in many regions. This plant is also classified as a Diplazium Esculentum that is entirely different from similar-looking plants like Ostrich Ferns. The ferns are evergreen plants that can grow in poor soil where moisture is present.

Description of Vegetable Fern

Vegetable fern is not like your regular plants and vegetables. It has a rather odd design and description. This plant has an ascending rhizome which is about 7 inches high and is covered with rufous scales as well. These scales are only 1 cm long with some variation possible. Besides, this plant is bipinnate with brown petioles while the petiole base is black. Again, there are short scales on it as well. The frond of vegetable fern can reach a maximum of 1.5cm in length while the pinnae can be 8cm long with 2cm width. Check out this image below for a much clearer understanding of the description of vegetable fern.

Diplazium esculentum, the vegetable fern on white background
Diplazium esculentum, the vegetable fern on white background.

Uses of Vegetable Fern

The vegetable fern has several important uses in day-to-day work. This is why it has high demand all over the world, particularly in the Asian economies.

Light Blanching

Vegetable ferns are harvested plants that you can either blanch, boil, stir fry, or pickle if you like. People often compare it with the flavor of over-cooked asparagus; the young fronds are cooked before being consumed to avoid bitterness. These ferns are also dried sometimes and then reformed for cooking.


You can use vegetable fern to make sautéed fiddleheads and salad. To make this delicious recipe, you have to boil the fiddleheads for about 7 to 10 minutes. It is an excellent recipe that provides a great percentage of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Special Cuisine

Vegetable ferns are also used in making different cuisines in many countries. In Indonesia, young fiddlehead ferns are cooked in a creamy coconut sauce and spiced with chili pepper, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric leaves, and other spices. This dish is known as GulaiPaku, and it originated from an ethnic group called the Minangkabau ethnic group of Asia.

Homemade omelet with asparagus and mushrooms
Homemade omelet with asparagus and mushrooms

Medicinal Uses

The ferns have therapeutic and healing properties, due to which they are used as medicine for treating different health problems.  They are useful in treating wounds, skin problems, reducing weight, improving cardiovascular health, maintaining good vision, respiratory problems, and many more. Doctors recommend using ferns in a regular diet if possible to stay healthy and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Benefits of Vegetable Ferns

There are several reasons why one should be consuming the vegetable fern in routine. Besides, it has some benefits for special conditions as well, such as when one is injured. 

1. Effective in Healing Wounds

According to a study, vegetable ferns help heal wounds because of their high vitamin C content (30 mg per 100 grams). Vitamin C helps in forming collagen, which is an abundant protein in the human body. Moreover, it is also vital for the hydroxylation of proline. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are essential ingredients in the formation of collagen.

2. Helps in Reducing Body Weight

A study suggests that the leaves of vegetable ferns are an excellent phosphorus source, a mineral that helps utilize carbohydrates and fats to prevent extra body weight. It also helps in the maintenance and repairing of body cells and tissues.

Even though this vegetable contains a minimal amount of phosphorus, eating it in satisfactory amounts daily can help fulfill the need for phosphorus in the human body.

3. Promotes Healthy Vision

The leaves of these vegetable ferns contain vitamin A, meaning that they are also great for improving eyesight. A research study says that they are great for people who are suffering from eyesight problems, and they need to add this vegetable to their daily diet as it helps a lot in reducing the symptoms and promoting a good vision. Carrots are also a great vegetable for improving vision.

Detailed close up view on a forest ground texture with moss and branches
Detailed close up view on a forest ground texture with moss and branches found in a european forest

4. Helps in Keeping You Active

Vegetable fern contains iron that helps in producing energy in the body. It also serves as a path for the proper distribution of oxygen in the human body. Usually, doctors recommend iron supplements to people who feel weak and dizzy, but the problem is that they are very costly.

Based on a study, vegetable ferns can help a lot in this case. You can eat this veggie alone or pair it with other fruits and vegetables for a healthy meal.

5. Heart Healthy

According to a research article, the leaves of vegetable fern are great for the heart because they contain potassium to treat heart and blood pressure problems.

This veggie reduces blood pressure by removing the additional amount of sodium in the bloodstream; that is why it is recommended for maintaining a balanced heart rate and promoting heart health.

6. Great For Relieving Cough And Respiratory Ailments

Vegetable ferns are very helpful in relieving cough and are also beneficial in curing other respiratory problems. One study on ferns suggests that you can make an effective medicine for cough using tender fronds. The cough syrup that is made from a fern is an excellent tonic for cleaning the respiratory system.

You can also use another variety of vegetable fern, known as MaidenHair Fern. It is quite well known and has historical importance for curing cough.

7. Helps In Preventing Cancer

Vegetable fern contains vitamins A and C that help eliminate the symptoms of cancer. It also helps in preventing stomach cancers. A study proves that intake of ferns rich in vitamin A can help the body protect against oral cavity and lung cancers. Vegetable ferns are also great for curing skin cancer.

8. Helps in Controlling Diabetes

The young shoots of different kinds of fern are harvested before they get fully unfolded to eat. You can eat them cooked as a vegetable. According to a research article, these are great for people who have diabetes and are avoiding carbohydrates to reduce blood sugar levels. Moreover, this healthy veggie also helps them metabolize food and supply the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Foxtail Fern leaf .Close up, selected focus. Shallow DOF.
Foxtail Fern leaf .Close up, selected focus. Shallow DOF.

9. Helps in Breathing Problems

Many people nowadays suffer from breathing problems that ultimately weaken their heart health. It also disturbs their blood cells’ health, so that is one reason why they should consume tea made from fern to keep their lungs healthy.

The tea of lady fern roots is excellent for the lungs as it refreshes the person’s breathing system by helping them inhale more oxygen into it. According to research, it also helps in bringing more oxygen into their blood.

10. Great For Lack of Appetite

In a study, alternative medicine of fronds and sprouts from the ferns are found to cure tastelessness. Vegetable ferns are also helpful for people with a lack of appetite as the vitamins in their work in their favor.

11. Help Treat Poisonous Stings

A study has recommended that ferns are also great in treating poisonous stings of scorpions, snakes, insects, honey bees, etc. They help make the sting less toxic and ultimately lower its dangerous effects on the body.

12. Help with Skin Problems

Ferns have been proven to be very useful in treating skin problems. According to research, vegetable fern can help treat skin irritation, rashes, itching, scars, swelling, and other skin-related issues.

abstract green leaf texture, nature background, tropical leaf
Monstera and palm and tropical leaves foliage plant bush floral arrangement nature backdrop isolated on white background,

Fun Facts About Vegetable Fern

  1. According to experts, dinosaurs lived about 245 million years ago. Most of us consider it very old. However, ferns are even older as they existed about 300 million years ago or perhaps, even more. Surprisingly, they were found in fossil records even before the plants with flowers. 
  2. Ferns were once quite suspicious plants and it is believed that they used to give superhuman powers. It’s quite shocking that many people believed that fern seeds could make a person invisible. 
  3. A fun fact about fiddlehead ferns is that when they are uncoiled, they turn into the shape of an ostrich’s tail.
  4. New Brunswick is considered as the “Fiddlehead Capital of the World ” mainly because of the mass scale presence of fiddleheads in the floodplains of the area. 
  5. Ferns are usually not harmful but sometimes, they do contain bacteria which could cause gastrointestinal and other digestive problems. Therefore, it is advised that one should boil the vegetable fern for about 15 minutes before consuming them. This will eliminate all the bacteria. 
  6. Northcliff Farms of Ontario is considered to be the largest producer of vegetable fern. They have thousands of acres of land dedicated to the production of ferns and are known for handpicking these greens. 


Vegetable ferns are a great source of vitamins A and C that help heal wounds, treat cancer, and more. Owing to their incredible therapeutic benefits and properties, you can eat them as a vegetable and make medicines out of them. People with problems like blood pressure, diabetes, skin irritation, cardiovascular, and cancer patients should make this a part of their daily diet. Even if you are healthy, you can add vegetable fern in your bowl of salad for an additional health punch.