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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 27, 2009

From: Indian River, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Transplants
Title: Looking for a source of bracken fern seed.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I`m looking to buy "bracken fern"seed. Or can it be transplanted from the wild?

ANSWER:

Lets talk about ferns. Ferns belong to a group of vascular plants (Pteridiophytes) that have been around for more than 300 million years, and were at their height during the Carboniferous Period (the age of ferns). During this era, some fern-like groups  evolved seeds (the seed ferns), but these have become extinct along with most of the ferns of the Carboniferous. There are about 12,000 species of modern ferns in the world today, but none have seeds.

Bracken Fern Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)  is a widely distributed species throughout the world and Michigan, so finding some in the wild should not be too difficult.  Finding a landowner willing to allow you to dig their ferns may be another issue altogether, though.

I have included two sources that can help you learn more about ferns and how to grow them.

The first one has good general information about Bracken Fern.

This one from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has lists of ferns you can select for planting and tips for caring for them.

Finally a word of caution; Bracken Fern is listed as toxic for horses and other livestock in several poisonous plant databases (see below).

Universtiy of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants Database

Texas Toxic Plant Database

Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals

 Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States


Pteridium aquilinum

 

 

 


 

 

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