E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn
bracken fern (western brackenfern)
Denstaedtiaceae

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© 3CDSG DND  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4682)

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Distribution of Pteridium aquilinum
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Species Information

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General:
Deciduous perennial from a long, creeping, underground rhizome.
Leaves:
Large, triangular, 3-pinnate, 60-170 cm long, 30-100 cm wide, with long, thick stipes, the ultimate segments numerous, woolly to smooth on the lower surface.
Notes:
Most BC plants of this species belong to P. aquilinum ssp. lanuginosum. Two subspecies can be distinguished as follows:

1. Leaves broadly triangular, but rarely divided in 3 main segments; pinnules nearly at right angles to the rachis, their lower surface densely woolly or woolly short-hairy; the inner indusium fringed and sometimes also hairy.................... ssp. lanuginosum (Bong.) Hult.

1. Leaves mostly with 3 main subdivisions; pinnules at an oblique angle to the rachis, their lower surface nearly smooth and short-hairy only on the midrib; the inner indusium without hairs......................... ssp. latiusculum (Desv.) C.N. Page

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Green
Blooming Period:
Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to wet forest margins, peat bogs, avalanche tracks, clearings, roadsides, burns, dry openings in forest and meadows, from the lowland and steppe to subalpine zones; common in BC south of 55degreeN (ssp. lanuginosum) or rare in the steppe zone S BC (ssp. latiusculum); cosmopolitan, E to W AB, disjunct to MB and ON, and S to GA, TX, NM, AZ and CA; Eurasia, Africa, Australia, S America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Ecology

Ecological Framework for Pteridium aquilinum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class

Minimum

Average

Maximum

Elevation (metres) 2 616 1990
Slope Gradient (%) 0 24 150
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 191 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Class
C
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
2485
Modal BEC Zone Class
ICH
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(130), CWH(881), ESSF(98), ICH(1027), IDF(46), MH(14), MS(11), SBS(44), SWB(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, cosmopolitan fem (transcontiĀ­nental in North America). Occurs on water-shedding and water-receiving sites in boreal, temperate, mesotherrnal, and tropical climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude and elevation. Scattered in coniferous forests where it is usually associated with Gaultheria shallon, Hylacamium splendens, and Vaccinium parvifolium; plentiful to abundant. often dominant, in initial communities on cutover and burnt sites where its vigorous growth and litterĀ­fall may hinder growth of conifers. Characteristic of fire-disturbed sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)

Climate

The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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