Disagreement exists among taxonomists regarding the rank that should be accorded to the taxa treated herein as varieties. In a survey of the genus, C. N. Page (1976) noted uniform chromosome numbers and flavonoid compositions of the varieties. D. B. Lellinger (1985) separated the genus into at least two species based on morphology, recognizing as species the subspecies of R. M. Tryon (1941). J. T. Mickel and J. M. Beitel (1988) reported sympatric occurrence in Mexico of three taxa that maintained consistent characteristics and only rarely produced plants with combined characteristics. They suggested that these three taxa should be considered as species that occasionally hybridize. P. J. Brownsey (1989) reported that two different brackens in Australia formed sterile hybrids and should be treated as species. Modern systematic studies are needed to evaluate the status and rank of the four North American varieties. As treated below, Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens , var. latiusculum , and var. pseudocaudatum are in subsp. aquilinum , and var. caudatum is in subsp. caudatum (Linnaeus) Bonaparte.
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