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Osmunda japonica (syn. Osmunda nipponica Makino), also called Asian royal fern, is a fern in the genus Osmunda native to east Asia, including Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and the far east of Russia on Sakhalin. It is called gobi (고비) in Korean and zenmai (ゼンマイ; 薇) in Japanese.
It is a deciduous herbaceous plant which produces separate fertile and sterile fronds. The sterile fronds are spreading, up to 80–100 cm tall, bipinnate, with pinnae 20–30 cm long and pinnules 4–6 cm long and 1.5–2 cm broad; the fertile fronds are erect and shorter, 20–50 cm tall.
It grows in moist woodlands and can tolerate open sunlight only if in very wet soil. Like other ferns, it has no flowers, but rather elaborate sporangia, that very superficially might suggest a flower, from which the alternative name derives.
Like its relative Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (Cinnamon fern), the fertile fronds become brown-colored and contain spores. The sterile (vegetative) fronds resemble in form, another relative, Osmunda regalis (Royal fern).
In some parts of China (where it is called 蕨菜 or juecai in Mandarin), Tibet and Japan (where it is called zenmai in Japanese), the young frond or fiddlehead of Osmunda japonica is used as a vegetable. In Korea too, these young shoots are commonly used to make dishes like namul.
- Korea National Arboretum (2015). English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: National Arboretum. p. 556. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
- "Osmunda japonica". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Pratt, Keith; Rutt, Richard (2013), Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary, Routledge, p. 310, ISBN 9-781-1367-9400-1
- Flora of Taiwan: Osmunda japonica
- Plants for a Future: Osmunda japonica
- Eating from the wild: diversity of wild edible plants used by Tibetans in Shangri-la region, Yunnan, China
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