The common name for this very widespread species of fern (Pteridium aquilinum) is bracken or common bracken. Growths of this bracken fern cover very large areas, often alongside roads or in woodland fields.
The origin of the Latin aquilinum is "eagle". The most common thought is that this is because the shape of the mature fronds resemble an eagle's wing.
The bracken fern is a herbaceous perennial plant, deciduous in winter. The large, roughly triangular fronds are produced singly, arising upwards from an underground rhizome, and grow to 1-3 m (3-10 ft) tall; the main stem, or stipe, is up to 1 cm (0.4 in) diameter at the base.
This photo (left) is the Pteridium aquilinum, taken in a cleared area in an open woods in the southern part of Beyond.
Our special thanks to Wim de Winter of Holland for his expert knowledge and assistance.
Tall. Very Tall
Divided 3-4 times. Polypodium: divided once
Spores in lines along the leaf margin. Polypodium: in round heaps
Covering vast areas. Polypodium: in very small areas