Bracken

Bracken (Pteridium) is a genus of large, coarse ferns in the family Dennstaedtiaceae. Ferns (Pteridophyta) are vascular plants that have alternating generations, large plants that produce spores and small plants that produce sex cells (eggs and sperm). Brackens are noted for their large, highly divided leaves. They are found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments except deserts, though their typical habitat is moorland. The genus probably has the widest distribution of any fern in the world.

Bracken
Pteridium aquilinum[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Polypodiophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Dennstaedtiaceae
Genus: Pteridium
Gled. ex Scop. 1760 not Raf. 1814 (Pteridaceae)
Species

See text

The word bracken is of Old Norse origin, related to Swedish bräken and Danish bregne, both meaning fern. In the past, the genus was commonly treated as having only one species, Pteridium aquilinum, but the recent trend is to subdivide it into about ten species.

Like other ferns, brackens do not have seeds or fruits, but the immature fronds, known as fiddleheads, are sometimes eaten, although some are thought to be carcinogenic.