Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial fern develops an erect and rather stout stem about 2½' tall, from which there extends a single compound leaf about 3½' long and 3' across. 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. The compound leaf has an irregular structure; it is mostly bipinnate-pinnatifid and, to a lesser extent, ternately pinnate (3-pinnate). Each compound leaf is divided into 3 major branches (1 central, 2 lateral). A single branch of the compound leaf has a pinnate-pinnatifid or bipinnate structure; it is triangular in outline. The rachis of each branch is light green and hairless (or nearly so). There are about 12 pairs of leaflets along the central axis (rachis) of each branch; the leaflets toward the base of the branch are much longer than the leaflets toward its tip. The leaflets toward the base are more likely to be odd-pinnate, while the leaflets toward the tip are more likely to be odd-pinnatifid. Individual leaflets have 1-15 pairs of subleaflets or lobes; they are usually oblong in shape. The terminal lobes (or 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 wide. The margins of the subleaflets and lobes are smooth and sometimes slightly undulate; they bend 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 summer or fall. The root system system is fibrous and rhizomatous; individuals rhizomes can extend many yards (or meters), sending up new vegetative shoots every 1-5 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

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

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 3 leafy branches 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

Average 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

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Bracken Fern is occasional to locally common in northern and west-central Illinois, becoming less common elsewhere in the state. This fern is widely distributed throughout the world. Habitats include open woodlands, sandy woodlands, rocky wooded slopes, sandstone cliffs, sandy savannas, sandy thickets, sedge meadows, moist sand prairies, and sandy banks of roadsides. Bracken Fern is particularly common in burned-over areas; its dried leaves provide abundant fodder for wildfires.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum (Desv.) Underw. ex A. Heller:
China (Asia)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Pteris latiuscula Desv.:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Pteridium aquilinum subsp. latiusculum (Desv.) W.C. Shieh:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Bracken Fern is occasional to locally common in northern and west-central Illinois, becoming less common elsewhere in the state. This fern is widely distributed throughout the world. Habitats include open woodlands, sandy woodlands, rocky wooded slopes, sandstone cliffs, sandy savannas, sandy thickets, sedge meadows, moist sand prairies, and sandy banks of roadsides. Bracken Fern is particularly common in burned-over areas; its dried leaves provide abundant fodder for wildfires.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

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

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

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

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

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

Average 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

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average 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

Average 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

Average 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!