En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

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


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


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






More Transplants Questions

Replacing mature Arizona Ash trees in Austin
August 26, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 2 very large, very old Arizona Ash trees in my yard. I want to remove them and replace them with something like Cedar Elm or Chinquapin Oak. The problem is that they are t...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant non-native Crape Myrtle in Fulshear TX
July 01, 2010 - When are the best times to plant Crape Myrtles? My husband and I have just moved to Fulshear, TX (just slightly west of Houston) and being summer, I didn't think this was the best planting period. ...
view the full question and answer

Recovery from transplant shock for bougainvillea
July 12, 2007 - I live outside of Phoenix. I just bought a bougainvillea in a large pot. It was doing nicely until I brought it home. I placed it in a sunny spot in my front yard inside of a large volcanic rock that ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting crabapples in NJ
October 25, 2010 - I purchased a mature Red Baron crabapple in march of this year from a reputable nursery here in southern NJ. The tree was in the ground when I first viewed it, and since it was march and hadn't bloom...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Virginia creeper
September 02, 2008 - I have a large Virginia creeper plant approximately 15 feet in length. Is it possible to transplant the whole thing without killing it? If so how do I care for it after it has been moved? Thank yo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center