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Plant Details

Pteridium latiusculum [= Pteridium aquilinum]

Eastern Bracken, Bracken Fern, Brake

Scientific Name:

Pteridium latiusculum [= Pteridium aquilinum]

Genus:

Pteridium

Species Epithet:

latiusculum

Common Name:

Eastern Bracken, Bracken Fern, Brake

Plant Type

Fern/Clubmoss/Allies

Life Cycle

Perennial

Plant Family

Dennstaedtiaceae (Bracken Family)

Native/Alien:

NC Native

Size:

1-3 ft., 3-6 ft.

Light:

Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

“Var. latiusculum, Eastern Bracken: Mainly in dry woodlands, forests, and heath balds, up to 1600 m in elevation. Common in NC Mountains and Piedmont, rare in Coastal Plain.
Var. pseudocaudatum, Southern Bracken: Mainly in dry sandy woodlands, often locally abundant in sandhills and flatwoods. Var. pseudocaudatum is primarily distributed in the Southeastern Coastal Plain (where it is ubiquitous and abundant) = Pteridium aquilinum” (Weakley 2015). Uncommon in NC Mountains and Piedmont, common in Coastal Plain.

Leaf Arrangement:

Basal

Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:

Compound

Life Cycle:

Perennial

Wildlife Value:

Not Assigned

Landscape Value:

Not Recommended for home landscapes

Notes:

2 varieties in NC, Pteridium latiusculum var. latiusculum, and P. latiusculum var. pseudocaudaum
"Pteridium is a notorious and nearly worldwide weed (though less consequential in our area than in many parts of the world), nearly impossible to eradicate because of its deeply subterranean rhizomes. Bracken fiddleheads are sometimes eaten, but they are poisonous and highly carcinogenic. Bracken is not favored by grazing animals, and increases its abundance under grazing pressure. In overgrazed pastures, however, cattle will graze on bracken, the carcinogenic compound (shikimic acid) then transmittable to humans through milk" (Weakley 2015).

Fiddleheads

image

Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

Fronds

image

Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

Links:

USDA PLANTS Database Record


Bird-Friendly Native Plants



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