Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn - Bracken Fern

Pteridium aquilinum plant

Family - Dennstaedtiaceae

Stems - No info. yet.

Pteridium aquilinum stem

Pteridium aquilinum node

Leaves - No info. yet. Pteridium aquilinum pinnuleAbaxial surface of pinnule.

Inflorescence - No info. yet.

Flowers - No flowers, plants reproducing by spores.

Flowering - July - September.

Habitat - Openings of rocky woods, upland forests, road banks. Mostly on acid soils.

Origin - Native to U.S. and nearly cosmopolitan.

Other info. - This large fern species can be found mainly in the Ozark region of Missouri but is also found in a few northern counties. This big species is easy to identify in the field as nothing else really resembles it. In some areas the plant can grow to 3m tall. The rhizomes of this species can grow very very long, to nearly 400m, yes 400m.
P. aquilinum is a toxic species yet some Asian cultures still eat the fiddleheads. In North America natives used the plant to treat a variety of ailments such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and to treat worms. The plant contains many (at least 3) known carcinogens. Other substances in this species prevent the growth of nearby woody plants and the plant can become dominant in clear-cut or burned areas.

Photographs taken in Marquette, MI., 7-21-02.


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