Bracken Fern
Pteridium aquilinum var. caudatum

Bracken Fern

Bracken fern is a fast spreading fern, an average of three feet tall, yet to 20 feet when climbing up nearby trees and shrubs. It grows in dry pinelands, back dunes and hammocks spreading by underground rhizomes many feet from where planted.

After a fire, this is one of the first plants to send up new growth. This is one of the best plants for large areas in need of a groundcover. If you have pinelands, a canal bank, roadside swale, or any other large, dry area of the yard in need of a permanent cover, this will do the job.

Planted six to 10 feet apart, bracken fern will grow together within the year. Break things up with saw palmetto, beauty berry, myrsine, wild coffee, marlberry and other dense shrubs that can compete for space.

If the fronds become too old and ugly, just mow; new fiddleheads will appear in a few days. This is excellent cover for wildlife but not an abundant source of food.