BRACKEN, Pteridiurn aquilinum
(L.) Kuhn. 1, plant showing leaves and rhizomes; 2, segmented
leaflet; 3, undersurface of leaflet showing spore bearing margin.
Perennial, growing 1 to 4 feet (0.3 to 1.2 m) tall. Reproduces by
spores or by shoots from a thick, black, scaly rhizome that may grow to
a length of 20 feet (6 m). Leaves or fronds arise directly from
the rhizome, with many branches, each branch being made up of numerous
leaflets which in turn are segmented. Spores are borne on the underside
of each leaflet in a narrow, brownish marginal band. Found in open
pastures, woodlands, and hillsides, particularly on acid soils. The plant
is poisonous if consumed over time, but is not usually eaten unless feed
is very short.