Pioneer Valley Fern Society

An unusual sighting

Fertile Bracken Fern leaflets

Those of you who have been on our fern hikes may remember Randy mentioning how unusual it is to find a Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) that has fertile leaflets (or pinnae). There is a place he goes in New York where he has found a fertile bracken fern before, and he found it again this year. The photo shows what you can be looking for, if you want to find one as well. If you do find one, let us know!

As an aside, the name "Bracken" is from old Norse (according to Steve Chadde, Northeast Ferns), related to the Swedish word "bräken", meaning fern. He also says the fiddleheads contain a "carcinogenic terpene ptaquiloside", and should not be eaten.

With the drought conditions we are experiencing, even the Bracken Ferns are drying out and yellowing. We may have to cancel or change the location of our August 21st hike if the ferns continue to die back at Mt. Toby.