Day 27: At the weekend a post on the Facebook 30 Days Wild page caught my eye. The post was all about species with a link to The Wildlife Trusts Wildlife Explorer. I noticed that ferns and horsetails were in their own species category, so I decided to look more closely at the ferns in the yarden.
We seem to have only one species of fern growing which I’ve ID’d as bracken! I think of bracken in woodland and heath-land, but apparently we have at least three bracken plants flourishing in the yarden.
They are ancient plants, far older than the dinosaurs, and can grow up to 1.5 meters.
Bracken spreads by underground rhizomes or horizontal stems but can germinate from spores (sporangia) carried on the wind. I noticed spores on the underside of the fronds and found them fascinating. I read that this bracken is fertile (due to the presence of spores) as not all have them.
Bracken is deciduous and dies back during winter and turns the landscape a tinge of brown. The plant is highly toxic to animals and should not be eaten. I read many scare stories associated with bracken online, that they harbour ticks and are carcinogenic.
What’s your thoughts on this ancient plant?
Thanks for reading, and stay wild!