Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This large fern varies in attractiveness depending on the condition of its leaves. Because of its relatively large size and tendency to be locally abundant, Bracken Fern lends an exotic tropical aura to the temperate woodlands and savannas where it occurs. This effect is magnified when it occurs with other large ferns, like Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern). Because of the triangular shape of its compound leaves and its tall erect petiole, Bracken Fern is easy to recognize, although somewhat variable across its range
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

This perennial fern develops an erect and rather stout petiole up to 3' tall, from which there extends a single compound leaf up to 3½' long and 3' across that is triangular in outline. In shady areas, the compound leaf usually extends horizontally in relation to the ground, while in sunny areas it is more ascending. The compound leaf varies in color from yellowish green to medium green; its upper surface is glabrous or nearly so, while its lower surface is glabrous to sparsely short-pubescent. The compound leaf has an irregular structure; it is mostly bipinnate-pinnatifid and, to a lesser extent, tripinnate-pinnatifid. Along the central rachis of the fern, there are up to 12 pairs of leaflets that become progressively smaller in size; the leaflets toward the base of the rachis are much longer than the leaflets toward its tip. Individual leaflets are mostly pinnate-pinnatifid, although some of the larger leaflets toward the base of the rachis are partly bipinnate-pinnatifid; there are up to 15 pairs of subleaflets per leaflet that gradually become shorter toward its tip, where there is a terminal subleaflet.  The subleaflets are mostly pinnatifid; they have up to 12 pairs of oblong lobes and a terminal lobe. When ultimate leaflets are present, they are either smooth or they have up to 4 pairs of basal lobes that are oblong in shape. The terminal lobes of leaflets and subleaflets are elongated in shape and finger-like in appearance; they are 3-6 mm. (1/8–1/4") across and 2-4 times longer than they are wide. The petiole, central rachis, and lateral stalks of each compound leaf are light green to yellowish green and glabrous to finely short-pubescent. The margins of the subleaflets, ultimate leaflets, and lobes are smooth and sometimes slightly undulate; they curve downward. The reproductive structures (indusia, sporangia) are located along these rolled margins on the underside of the compound leaf. These reproductive structures are produced sparingly; when they occur, the spores are usually released during the summer or autumn. The root system system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous; individuals rhizomes can extend many yards (or meters), sending up new clonal shoots every 1-6 feet. As a result, sizable colonies of plants are fairly common. The growing tips of rhizomes are either glabrous or sparsely white hairy. The compound leaves are deciduous and sensitive to frost; they die down and turn brown during the winter.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

USA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC (NPIN, 2007)

Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE (NPIN, 2007)

USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N), SPM(N) (NPIN, 2007)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

FlowersThis is not a flowering plant. Instead it reproduces by spores. (NPIN, 2007)

Fruit dots occur in continuous confluent lines. (Peattie, 1930)

Fronds are dull light green and 3-forked at the summit of the stout stipe. The wide-spreading branches are 2-pinnate, the lower pinnules are pinnatifid. Fronds are ternately decompound (in compound divisions of threes) and rather coarse as to stipes and texture. (Peattie, 1930) The blade is broadly triangular to sometimes ovate, 3-pinnate or 3-pinnate-pinnatifid at the base. Blade margins and abaxial surface are shaggy, rachises and costae are glabrous (hairless) or sparsely pilose (furry) abaxially. Proximal pinnae are broadly triangular, while distal pinnae narrowly triangular or oblong. The terminal segment of each pinna is approximately 2-4 times longer than wide, and longer ultimate segments are less than their width apart. Pinnules are at 45°-60° angle to costa. The fertile ultimate segments are adnate (grown together) or equally decurrent and surcurrent. Outer indusia (membrane over sori--sporangia clusters) are entire or somewhat erose (appearing chewed), glabrous (hairless). (FNA, 2006)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size

Fronds are 0.3-1 m tall. (Peattie, 1930) The petiole is 15-100 cm. The blade is 20-80 × 25-50 cm. The pinnae are ca. 3-6 mm wide. (FNA, 2006)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

This is the commonest fern of oak woods, dune meadows, and open sandy clay soil. (Peattie, 1930) Native Habitat: Woodland,Forest Edge.(NPIN, 2007) This plant inhabits barrens, pastures, and open woodlands in moderately to strong acid soil. They are abundant, forming large colonies up to 1500 m in elevation. Colonies are more frequent in the northern part of the range. Fertile colonies, however, are more frequent in the southern and eastern portion of the range. (FNA, 2006)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Dispersal

This plant is abundant, forming large colonies. Colonies are more frequent in the northern part of the range. Fertile colonies, however, are more frequent in the southern and eastern portion of the range. (FNA, 2006)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Faunal Associations

Some insects are known to feed on Bracken Fern. They include the caterpillars of some moths
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

This is a perennial. (NPIN, 2007)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

2 n = 104. (FNA, 2006)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. latiusculum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. latiusculum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: TNR - Not Yet Ranked

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Pteridium aquilinum, (bracken or bracken fern) can be weedy or invasive. This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is light shade to full sun, moist to dry conditions, and an acidic rocky or sandy soil (especially the latter). This fern can spread aggressively. The foliage is susceptible to various fungal diseases. Range & Habitat
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Uses

Folklore and fable have many references to bracken. In the past it was used in mattresses to prevent rickets, in pillows for the relief of asthma, and in many old time medicines. First Nations People often wore it over their heads to discourage blackflies. (NPIN, 2007)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Risks

Risk Statement

Vertebrate poisons: mammals. This plant is enough of a poison to mammals (particularly grazing) to have notable economic impact. (USDA GRIN, 2007)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Beck, Nicholas

Source: Indiana Dunes Bioblitz

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Canadian endemic (Kartesz, 6/99 review draft dataset).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!