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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© 3CDSG DND     (Photo ID #4682)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Pteridium aquilinum
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Deciduous perennial from a long, creeping, underground rhizome.
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.
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

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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




Elevation (metres)
616 2 1990
Slope Gradient (%)
24 0 150

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

191 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia