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Pteridium aquilinum (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)
Pteridium aquilinum (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)

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Zone
Zones 1-10, 14-24
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal
Toxicity
Fronds are poisonous if ingested

Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken
Polypodiaceae
Ferns

Usually colonizing open forest or disturbed areas, bracken has big, triangular fronds that rise on 2–7-ft. stalks. Found all over the world, its subspecies differ in minor details; P. a. pubescens is native to the West. Its coarse, much-divided fronds rise directly from deep, running rootstocks.

Bracken is fine in untamed locations, but keep it out of the garden, where deep rootstocks make it a tough, invasive weed. Fiddleheads are carcinogenic.

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