The root of Aspidium, Dryopteris filix-mas, was used by the ancients as a vermifuge. Theophrastus (633), Dioscorides (194), and Pliny (514) all describe it. It passed as a domestic remedy through the Middle Ages, was noticed, 1790, by Valerius Cordus (169), and had a place as a drug to be taxed in Germany, in the sixteenth century. Neglected then, it was subsequently revived as a chief constituent, combined with purgatives, in a secret remedy for tape-worm, one of the promoters being Daniel Mathieu, an apothecary of Berlin. His treatment was so successful that Frederick the Great purchased the formula for an annuity of thirty pounds, conferring on its originator the dignity of "Aulic Councillor." Madame Nuffler, the widow of a surgeon at Murten, Switzerland, was paid 18,000 livres by Louis XIV for a tapeworm cure consisting chiefly of powdered fern root. J. Peschier 1825, a pharmacist of Geneva, introduced the ethereal extract, which was not, however, employed in England to any extent until the middle of the last century. Its empirical record introduced male fern to the orthodox medical profession.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.