Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vegetable Fern (Pako') - Athyrium esculentum

For a change, try fern vegetable. It's good for the family;  It is rich in minerals and high in food value.
Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Pako' abounds in the wild - fields, forests and on river banks. It is often found growing on the backyard and idle lots.  Because many people have learned to eat pako', it is now widely sold in public markets just like any vegetable. 

Gather the young leaves or fronds which are eaten either raw or cooked.  They may be used as salad with various dressings, as leafy vegetable, or as ingredient of stews.

At home we prefer Ilocos Vinegar for dressing, with chopped onions, and a dash of salt.  Try fresh tomato instead of vinegar. 

When cooking bulanglang or diningding, include pako' singly ir in combination with other vegetables like spinach and eggplant.  Don't forget sweet potato (kamote) in  cubes as thickening (buridibud).     

Pako’ salad with tomato and onion dressing; pako ready for cooking stew.

Mineral Content and Food Value of fresh Athyrium esculentum (percent)
 Marañon J (Philippine Journal of Science), and Hermano AJ (Bureau of Science Popular Bulletin), Useful Plants of the Philiipines Volume 1, William H Brown

Moisture 89-90;
Ash 1.14 - 1.32
Phosphorus 0.26
Calcium 0.03
Iron 0.006
Protein 3.11
Fats 0.28
Cabohydrates 3.86
Crude Fiber 1.23

How do you recognize the plant in the field? Here is a guide.  Refer to the illustration to familiarize yourself.  Pako' is in ther list of wild food plants, and "hunger" or emergency food plant in times of scarcity. It is a survivor's alternative food.  

Athyrium esculentum has twce- or thrice-pinnate frond which are 50 to 80 cm long and about half as wide.  The pinnules are pointed, coarsely serrate, and about 2 to 5 cm long. The plant is abundantly distributed in the Philippines growing on gravelly bars and banks of streams.  It is also found growing widely from India to Polynesia. 

Pako' (Athyrium esculentum) growing habit

Another fern is edible. This is Ceratopteris thalictroides, a stout fern with leaves that are divideed into numerous narrow sgments..  It is aquatic and it actually grows on mud. It is also found all over the Philippines and in all tropical countries.  
  Ceratopteris thalictroides, an aquatic fern.  

Other edible fern species mainly in temperate regions: (Wikipedia)

The fiddleheads (unopened fronds) of certain ferns are eaten as a cooked leaf vegetable. The most popular of these are:

  • Western sword fern, Polystichum munitum, "king of northwest ferns."
  • Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum, found worldwide (Health Warning)
  • Ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, found in northern regions worldwide, and the central/eastern part of North America (Health Warning)
  • Lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina, throughout most of the temperate northern hemisphere.
  • Cinnamon fern or buckhorn fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, found in the eastern parts of North America, although not so palatable as ostrich fern.
  • Royal fern, Osmunda regalis, found worldwide
  • Midin, or Stenochlaena palustris, found in Sarawak, where it is prized as a local delicacy
  • Zenmai or flowering fern, Osmunda japonica, found in East Asia

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