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Flora of Scotts Creek Watershed

Growth Form Frond Closeup Young Frond

Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens - Western Bracken Fern

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Family Name: Dennstaedtiaceae

Common Names: Western Bracken Fern, Hairy Brakenfern

Origin: Native to California

Habitat: Disturbed areas, pastures, woods, meadows, hillsides. Below 3200 m.

Life Form and Duration: Perennial Fern, 25-200 cm

Comments on overall growth: Large ferns. Fronds arising singly, are scattered along rhizome, erect or arching over. Rhizomes creeping, hairy, lacks scales. Tends to form thickets, especially in full sun.

Foliage Type: Deciduous

Foliage Description: Stipe (stem below blade portion of frond) 10-100 cm long, lower portion near base is blackish with dense brownish hairs, upper portion straw-colored and generally glabrous. Laminae (divided blade portion of frond) 15-150 cm long, 15-100 cm wide, widely triangular, lower portions generally 3 pinnate, leathery. Pinnae (branches off main stalk) towards apex of frond undivided, lower ones generally longest and triangular shaped. Segments of pinnae generally 5-20 mm long by 3-6 mm wide, oblong, rounded tip, dense hairs on lower surface, few to none on upper.

Edibility: Toxic to humans and livestock. Contains carcinogens (shikimic acid) that can not be removed by cooking. Can be passed through milk of grazing animals.

Indusia and Sori Description: Sori are continuous along the margin of the pinnule (blade segment), covered with a false indusia of the reflexed margin.

Spore Production: September-January

Plant Use: "Older fronds historically were used for thatching of shelters by early settlers. Young leaves and underground stems were used as food, worm medicine, and to create an astringent."

Other Comments: Quickly regenerates after a fire.