Bracken

Pteridium aquilinum

About

Bracken is the UK's most common fern and grows in dense stands on heathland, moorland, hillsides and in woodland. It is a large fern that favours dry, acid soils and spreads by underground rhizomes. Unlike many ferns, Bracken dies back in winter, leaving brown withered fronds that pepper the landscape. In the spring, the tightly curled fronds appear, grow and unfurl.

How to identify

Bracken forms dense stands in many habitats. It can be easily recognised by its branched fronds which appear in spring and are green when mature.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Bracken is a highly invasive plant and can be damaging to sensitive habitats if it is allowed to spread as it can shade out other, rarer plants. The Wildlife Trusts ensure that the habitats they manage are well-balanced through a number of conservation measures including removing overpowering species like Bracken, scrub-cutting and controlled grazing. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from stockwatching to raising awareness about wildlife.

Species information

Common name
Bracken
Latin name
Pteridium aquilinum
Category
Ferns and horsetails
Statistics
Height: up to 2m
Conservation status
Common.