Connecticut Plants
Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn

Bracken is easily recognized by its large, triangular fronds. It is a very common fern, and it often grows in large colonies. Bracken is a fire-adapted species. It has deep rhizomes that survive fires, and ashes make the soil more alkaline, a favorable condition for germination of its spores.

  • Family: hayscented fern (Dennstaedtiaceae)
  • Habitat: sunny or partly shaded areas with infertile soil
  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Location of spores: underside of fronds, following the edge of the leaflets (see second photo)
  • Petiole (leaf stalk): smooth, rigid and green; dark brown at the base
  • Growth pattern: random
  • Persistence: deciduous
  • Origin: native
Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn
Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn

Underside of a leaf, showing the spores following the edge of the leaflets. Bracken spores areactually seldom seen; most bracken fronds produce no spores.