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Bracken Ferns - Tn Nursery Reviews

The bracken ferns I ordered months ago arrived in good condition. Weeks after I planted them, they started to sprout. I am so eager to see them grow in my make-shift garden. Thank you, TN! Tamara Rodriguez – Austin, TX


Tennessee Wholesale Nursery Reviews on The Bracken Fern


Bracken is a genus of giant, coarse ferns in the family of Dennstaedtiaceae. These ferns are vascular plants with alternating generations, as large plants produce spores and small plants with sex cells. Noted for their large, highly divided leaves, Brackens thrive on all continents except Antarctica and all ecosystems except for deserts, though they typically inhabit moorlands; out of all the ferns in the world, this genus has the widest distribution. The word bracken originates from Old Norse times, related to Swedish bracken and the Danish bregne, both of which relate to the fern. The genus used to have only one species, which is the Pteridium aquilinum—recent trends have subdivided it into around ten species. Like other ferns, brackens do not produce seeds or fruits but immature fronds known as fiddleheads that some cultures use in cuisine despite their carcinogenic properties.


Evolutionarily speaking, bracken ferns belong to the top of the fern hierarchy due to their highly invasive tendencies and tolerance to acidic soils. Like heather, bracken is typically found in moorland environments and is commonly referred to by locals north of England as the ‘Moorland Scrub.’ As one of the oldest ferns with fossil records dated to be over fifty-five million years old, the plant sends up large, triangular fronds from a wide-creeping underground rootstock and may form dense thickets. This rootstock can travel a meter or more underground between fronds, and these fronds may grow up to two-point-five meters (or around eight feet) long or longer with support. Brackens are typically deciduous in cold environments, and as they require well-drained soil, they generally grow on the sides of hills. Fern spores belong in structures located on the underside of the leaf called sori. The linear, leaf-edge pattern of these structures in bracken differs from those in other ferns, where sori are circular occur towards the center of the leaf.


Bracken ferns are known to produce and release allelopathic chemicals, which is an essential factor in their ability to dominate other vegetation, particularly in regrowth, such as after a fire. The bracken’s chemical emissions, shady canopy, and thick litter inhibit other plant species from establishing themselves, with the occasional exception of plants that support rare species of butterflies. Seedling growth could be inhibited even after bracken rots away, although this could be due to active plant toxins remaining in the soil. Bracken ferns substitute the characteristics of a woodland canopy, and they are essential for giving shade to European plants such as the common bluebell and wood anemone where woodlands do not exist. These plants cannot tolerate stock trampling, and dead bracken provides a warm microclimate for developing the immature stages. The climbing corydalis, wild gladiolus, and chickweed wintergreen could also benefit from the conditions under bracken stands. The high humidity in the frames helps mosses survive underneath, including the Campylopus flexuosus, Hypnum cupressiforme, Polytrichum commune, Pseudoscelopodium purum, and the Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus.



Brackens have their uses, too, especially in daily life throughout history. Bracken fiddleheads have appeared in the cookbooks of many cultures throughout history, fresh, cooked, or pickled. The Pteridium aquilinum is especially common in East Asian cuisine, especially in Korean kitchens and markets, where bracken shows up as a typical ingredient in a popular rice dish called bibimbap, as gosari. In Japanese cuisine, bracken is known as warabi, steamed, boiled, or cooked in soups; they preserve the fiddleheads in salt, sake, or miso. Meanwhile, in China, bracken is known as juecai and is eaten like vegetables or preserved by drying. They can break down the bracken’s rhizomes into flour to make bread, and in the Canary Islands, the rhizome appeared as an ingredient used to create a porridge called gofio. Both fronts and rhizomes contribute to beer production in Siberia and among the native North American tribes. In the Mediterranean region, bracken leaves filter sheep’s milk and store freshly made ricotta cheese. The Maori people of New Zealand use the P. esculentum rhizomes as a staple food. They are known as aruhe, which they consume while exploring or hunting groups away from permanent settlements. Brackens are widely distributed across New Zealand due to prehistoric deforestation and thriving on rich soils, producing the best crop. They dry and heat the rhizomes with a patu aruhe, after which they could suck the starch from the fibers. The patu aruhe were essential ritual items, after which the Maori developed several distinct styles.


Bracken ferns have other uses, and most of these uses are traditional such as animal bedding, which later breaks down into rich mulch that also works as fertilizer—this custom remains in Wales. It also comes in winter mulch, which helps reduce the loss of potassium and nitrogen in the soil and lower soil pH. Green bracken ferns average twenty-five percent potassium and can contain as much as fifty-five percent.


Perhaps the most well-known property of bracken, however, is its toxicity. These ferns contain specific amounts of a carcinogenic compound called ptaquiloside, which causes DNA damage. This compound often ends up leading to cancers in the digestive tract. High stomach cancer rates usually trace back to Japan and North Wales, where bracken frequently shows up on the menu, but it is still unclear whether or not bracken plays a role. Consumption of ptaquiloside-contaminated milk contributes to gastric cancer in the Andean states of Venezuela, and some researchers implicate bracken spores as carcinogens. However, ptaquiloside is water-soluble, making them destroyed by heat and alkaline conditions. East Asian cuisine has traditionally instructed the soaking of shoots in water and ash to detoxify the plant before eating. However, despite this, moderation of consumption is still recommended to reduce the chances of cancer formation. The British Royal Horticultural Society recommends against the consumption of bracken altogether, either by human means or by livestock.


Many sites have archeological remains of bracken dating back from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages through the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, the root systems of established bracken strands degrade archeological sites by disrupting the strata and other physical evidence. These rhizomes travel a meter or so underground between fronds and form most of the plant, with only the remainder visible.


Some minor level of scattered cover can provide habitats beneficially for some wildlife, at least in the UK–however, on balance, removing bracken encourages primary habitats to re-establish, which are of greater importance for its resident wildlife. However, control is a complex question with complex answers, which need to form a more comprehensive approach. As management can be difficult and expensive, plants may need to be about cost-effective, practical limitation and control rather than expectations for eradication. All methods need follow-ups over time, starting with the advancing areas first. And given the decades elapsed to arrive at the current levels of coverage on many sites, slowing down the process will require long-term consistency and persistency from all parties.


Tn Nursery Reviews are 5 Stars on The bracken Ferns.

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