Sweet Fern

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47dc-4fae-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.rThe fragrance of Sweet Fern after a summer rain is unmistakable. It’s as if somebody peppered the very air with an exotic spice. Fresh and refreshing are the words that spring to mind each time I breath in the aroma of this versatile plant.

Once you know that Sweet Fern (Compton Peragrina) is cousin to Bayberry (Myrica cerifera),  you begin to understand the lure of this lesser known member of the Myricaceae family.

Also known as Meadow Fern, and Spleenwort Bush, the plant is not a fern at all, but a deciduous shrub. It grows in rocky, sandy habitats, often on sunny hillsides along roadways. It reaches a height of two to three feet. Sweet Fern was a well used medicinal remedy among Native American tribes.

As a flower essence, Sweet Fern opens energy channels, making it an important component in my Energy Healer blend, along with Lilac to reconnect deep memories, and Lady’s Mantle to imbue Mother Earth’s nurturance.

The blossoms of the Sweet Fern are small. They can be easily missed when they present in late spring. There are male catkins and female, cone-like buds. Pollinated buds burst into a tiny fruit, or more correctly seed pod.Seed PodIt’s late in the season to be seeing the bright green seed satellites with their spiky hulls, especially this year, with the unusually high temperatures and drought like conditions we’ve been experiencing in the western Lake Superior basin, but I spied a few on my morning walk today.Brewing

Since I’m running low on last years stock of Sweet Fern essence, I decided to give it a go with the fruits of the plant. After all, the theory behind flower essence is that the plant’s vital energy is primarily in the blossom, and at it’s height in early morning. It seems to follow that the same would be true of the fruits and seeds—the progeny of the blossoms and method of procreating the plant. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

Bottled Sweet Fern Stock Essence

Sweet Fern is a very versatile plant medicine. All parts of the plant can be utilized in many different forms. You’ll find loads of information and uses with a simple search.

Normally after I’ve bottled up my stock solution, I use the mother essence to water my houseplants. This time I’m saving it to add to a weak infusion of the leaves, which I’ll cut using sterile water. I want to try it as an astringent eyewash.

Finally, I’m going to harvest the leaves to dry in bundles along with my prairie sage to use as a smudge.

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