Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of numerous widely distributed evergreen ferns of the genus Asplenium, having undivided to featherlike fronds and oblong to linear sori located on the small veins.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of a number of types of ferns in the genus Asplenium

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any fern of the genus Asplenium, some species of which were anciently used as remedies for disorders of the spleen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any fern of the genus Asplenium.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various chiefly rock-inhabiting ferns of the genus Asplenium

Etymologies

So called because it was thought to cure spleen disorders.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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  • Safe past the Gnome thro' this fantastic band, 55
    A branch of healing Spleenwort in his hand.
    Then thus address'd the pow'r: "Hail, wayward Queen!
    Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen:
    Parent of vapours and of female wit,
    Who give th' hysteric, or poetic fit, 60
    On various tempers act by various ways,
    Make some take physic, others scribble plays;
    Who cause the proud their visits to delay,
    And send the godly in a pet to pray.
    A nymph there is, that all thy pow'r disdains, 65
    And thousands more in equal mirth maintains.
    But oh! if e'er thy Gnome could spoil a grace,
    Or raise a pimple on a beauteous face,
    Like Citron-waters matrons cheeks inflame,
    Or change complexions at a losing game; 70
    If e'er with airy horns I planted heads,
    Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds,
    Or caus'd suspicion when no soul was rude,
    Or discompos'd the head-dress of a Prude,
    Or e'er to costive lap-dog gave disease, 75
    Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
    Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin,
    That single act gives half the world the spleen."

    "The Rape of the Lock", Canto IV

    September 26, 2009

  • apparently a cockamamie sort of cure, believed "useful for ailments of the spleen, due to the spleen-shaped sori on the backs of the fronds" according to Wiki

    September 21, 2009