What we grow - Biodiversity



Asplenium ceterach or rustyback (Ceterach officinarum – Aspleniaceae family) is a typical Central European fern. The name of the genus “Ceterach” seems to be derived from the Arabic one of the “cetrack” plant, while the specific name “officinarum” stands for “alchemy laboratory”, “chemical”, due to the use of the plant in pharmacopoeia since Middle Ages (From the Persian “shitarach”), from the Greek “Asplenon”, without a spleen, referring to the therapeutic action on the spleen. Known as stone-splitting herb because growing among the stones it slowly breaks them and following the doctrine of signs, it was used by many doctors of antiquity in the treatment of spleen and kidney stonesi.


The plant reaches a height of 6–20 centimeters. The leaf is linear or lanceolate, opaque, with a cut similar to a feather with 9-12 sections at an obtuse semicircular or oval, each covered with remaining scales.


Rustyback is recommended as a diuretic remedy against kidney stones, in particular, against calcium oxalate stones. The effectiveness of the extracts of this plant, in truth, seems to be quite shared, in fact, the rustyback extracts are part of the composition of numerous food supplements used to promote the well-being of the urinary tract. An interesting study conducted by Italian researchers has highlighted how the aqueous extract of rustyback can exert important antioxidant effects and how it is able to interfere with the growth and aggregation of calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals. In addition to this, during the study the aqueous extract proved effective in inducing changes in the size and shape of the calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals, reducing their size, thinning them and making them more concave and rounded, known to adhere less to the kidney tubular cells and to be eliminated more easily in the urine. The data gathered from this study, therefore, indicates that aqueous extracts of rustyback could prove to be useful remedies for kidney stones. It should be noted, however, that before taking rustyback, its extracts or the products that contain them, it is always advisable to consult your doctor in order to identify the presence of any contraindications to the use of similar products and in order to carry out a accurate diagnosis, consequently identifying the most suitable treatment for the patient. Furthermore, the herbal teas prepared with the aerial parts of the rustyback are used as a remedy against liver inflammation, while the decoction is used as an expectorant remedy.


Rustyback is widespread in Italy in most of the territory; it grows spontaneously on stone and brick walls as well as among rocks.