Tree fern (Various genera)

Tree Fern growing in the wildTree ferns are tall trees with long, slender trunks that often have a very rough, bark-like covering. The fronds unfold and are large and multiple-pinnate (feather like).  Large, lacy leaves uncoil from the top of the trunk.  The leaves may be covered in scales with spore clusters underneath.  Many species have massive fibrous roots at the base of the tree.

Where to Find: Tree ferns are found in wet, tropical forests.

Edible Parts: The young leaves (young, still uncurled fronds, sometimes called fiddleheads, are preferred) and the soft inner portion of the trunk are edible. Boil the young leaves and eat as greens or roast to remove the Shikimic acid found inside the leaf structure. Eat the inner portion of the trunk raw or bake it.

Note: There are concerns that ferns contain carcinogens that can accumulate over time and they have very little nutritional value.  Only eat in emergencies.

Tree Ferns can reach massive heights

Close up of Tree Fern leaves with spore clusters underneath the leaves

The curled Tree Fern fronds are preferred

Tree Ferns growing in the wild

Color drawing of a Tree Fern illustrating the leaves, fronds, and root structures

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