Economic Importance of Pteridophytes
Pteridophytes commonly known as Vascular Cryptogams, are the seedless vascular plants that evolved after bryophytes. Besides being a lower plant, pteridophytes are economically very important.
- Dry fronds of many ferns are used as a cattle feed.
- Pteridophytes are also used as a medicine. The decoction of foliage of Lycopodium is used in home¬opathy to treat diarrhoea, bladder irritability, eczema, rheumatism, constipation and inflammation of liver. The Flavonoids and saponins present in Equisetum have diuretic affect. The fern, Dryopteris yield an antihelminthic drug. Sporocarps of Marsilea are rich source of starch and eaten for their nutritive value as food. Osmunda cinnamomea is used externally for rheumatism and internally for joint pain. The chemically active principal ‘Marsiline’ isolated from Marsilea is found to be very effective against sedative and anti-convulsant principal.
- Aquatic pteridophyte Azolla is used as a biofertilizer. Azolla forms a symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria and therefore, former is used in water¬logged rice fields as a green manure which provides nitrogen to the plant.
- Pteridophytes are also used as a indicator plants. Equisetum accumulates minerals, especially gold, in their stem. Similarly, Asplenium adulterinum is an indicator of nickel and Actinopteris australis is a cobalt indicator plant.
- Several ferns such as Angiopteris, Asple¬nium, Marattia, Microsorium, Nephrolepis, Phymatodes, etc., have aesthetic values for their beautiful habit, graceful shape of the leaves, and beautiful soral arrangement. Thus, these characte¬ristics make them horticulturally important plants.