Ontario Ferns website

Bracken
(Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) Other common names: Bracken Fern, Eastern Bracken

Other scientific names: Pteridium latiusculum, Pteris aquilina

French names: Fougère d'aigle commune

Family: Bracken Family (Dennstaedtiaceae)

Similar species:
  •   Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) - much smaller, grows in deep woods.

  •   Robert's Fern (Gymnocarpium robertianum) - much smaller, uncommon.

  •   Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus) - much smaller, stouter for its size; has a central fertile frond sticking straight up.

  •   Grape Ferns - smaller, usually in the woods.

Fronds: Thrice divided

Height: Up to 2 m (1-5 ft)

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Open areas, fields & meadows.

Uses: Not adviseable to eat this fern.

Edible: Edible but not adviseable, as it contains carcinogens.

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Very common.

Notes: Can become invasive in certain areas/conditions.

Photographs: 141 photographs available, of which 17 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Typical leaves...

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Typical growth form - the leaves form a flat "umbrella".

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken in an open pine woods.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Here Bracken has taken over a clearing.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken can grow quite large sometimes, as shown here!

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Sometimes Bracken grows in the upright form. Not sure why.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Sometimes the leaflets grow slightly irregularly.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Upper surface of a frond.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Underside of a frond. Sometimes the margins of the leaflets will curl under very slightly.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Underside, showing what appears to be the sori, but is in fact insect damage!

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Fiddlehead in the spring (mid-May).

Bracken is not a recommended species of fern to eat. It contains high levels of carcinogens.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Ants seem to like Bracken.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Unfurling in the spring.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Bracken in the winter (February).


Range map for Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)