Plants of the UNF Campus

Pteridium aquilinum - Bracken or Bracken fern
Family Poaceae


According to some scientists, one widespread species of Pteridium is native around the world, on every continent except Antarctica. Others divide it into several species. This plant is used for a variety of purposes. Plants have an underground stem (rhizome) and sturdy, divided leaves. Young, unexpanded leaves (fiddleheads) are eaten by some people but the plant contains carcinogens and all parts are potentially poisonous. The plants have been used as local medicines and for dyes.


See this plant in well-drained natural areas.


Herbaceous perennial to about eighteen inches tall.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun to part shade

Water: moderately drought tolerant, tolerates moisture if the soil is well-drained

Soil: adaptable to a wide pH range

This native plant is not available in local nurseries. It is an appropriate plant for a natural garden and may be encouraged where it grows naturally. It is known to spread aggressively in ideal situations. In dry, sandy soils, it does not spread rapidly.