Bracken Fern - Tailed Bracken Fern
Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum
(Linnaeus) Kuhn (Desvaux) L. Underwood ex. A. Heller
Dennstaediticeae (Bracken Fern) Family


Bracken Fern is one of 15 families in the order Polypodiales. It comprises 10 genera with some 240 known species, including one of the world's most abundant fern (Bracken). Members of the order generally have large, highly divided leaves and have small, round intramarginal sori (structures that produce spores) that may be cup-shaped or linear. The diversity among members of the order has confused past taxonomy, but recent studies have supported the monophyly of the order and the family. The reclassification of Dennstaedtiaceae was recently published in 2006, so most of the available literature is not updated. Generally, however, the characteristics of Bracken Fern as we know it, will have long-creeping rhizomes that allow the plant to spread rapidly.

The leaves have stalks that are usually gutter-shaped; smooth with a soft downy covering. The blades are large; 2 or 3 pinnate that may be divided; veins are forked, rarely vanishing. The sori is near the leaf margin, or may be sub-marginal and sometimes fused with the blade to form a cup or pouch.

Although the plant is known for its weedy nature, some species are grown ornamentally.

The bracken family is pantropical and is found worldwide; well adapted to most environments; generally described as a weed because of its ease of spread and its ability to keep long life outside the soil. The spore is light and robust, so it can travel relatively far and colonize openly in disturbed environments.

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