Fall is the time when Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) is most notable, as the fronds turn from green to an attractive tan. While an attractive native fern, it is a bit of a thug in the garden, where vigorous growth and long underground runners make it a difficult species to manage. Formerly the fiddleheads (the unfurled young shoots) were picked and used as a spring vegetable;however, the consumption of Bracken has been linked to stomach cancer and breakdown of Vitamin B, so it is no longer recommended for human consumption. Indeed, very little seems to eat Bracken in the wild - I seldom find a stem chewed by any sort of herbivore. Studies in the UK and South America indicate only a small number of insects consume the species -and they tend to be highly specialized. Bracken is one of the most widely distributed species in the world..we have hiked through Bracken in the highlands of New Guinea and the Andes of Venezuela, the French countryside and cooler areas in Australia.
Two biologists on a beautiful property armed with cameras, smart phones and a marginal knowledge of websites took up the challenge of documenting one species a day on that property. Join along! Posts and photographs by Leah Ramsay and David Fraser (unless otherwise stated; started January 1, 2014.