Hartstongue plant - Scolopendrium Vulgare (Polypodiaceae)

Medicinal Use of Hartstongue – Scolopendrium Vulgare (Polypodiaceae)


Evergreen fern growing to 2 ft (60 cm). Has long, tongue-shaped fronds with twin rows of spores on the underside.

Habitat & Cultivation

Hartstongue is found throughout much of Europe, North Africa, East Asia, and North America. It prefers shaded sites in woodlands and on banks and walls. The fronds are gathered throughout the summer.

Parts Used



Hartstongue contains tannins, mucilage, and flavonoids (including leucodelphidin).

History & Folklore

Hartstongue has been prescribed as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery for at least 2,000 years. In Wales and the Scottish Highlands, it was traditionally used as a poultice for wounds, scalds, and burns, and as an ointment for hemorrhoids. In Japan, the fronds were smoked by the Ainu people.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Hartstongue was valued in the past for its ability to heal wounds, but today it is employed chiefly as a mild astringent. It is sometimes used in the treatment of diarrhea and IBS, and it may be of benefit to the liver and spleen. Hartstongue appears to have expectorant properties, and it is also mildly diuretic.