If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

My photo

I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

21 February, 2014

The ubiquitous bracken

I guess that of all the fern family bracken (Pteridium aquillinum) is the one that we could all name quite readily. Bracken seems to grow just about anywhere and everywhere. It is not only the most common fern in Dorset, it is the most common fern in Britain and indeed, in the whole world! Yes, we are all familiar
with bracken.
Not only is it diverse in its choice of habitat growing on heathland, moorland, open woods, unploughed pasture and hedgerows, where it grows it is usually the dominant vegetation of the area totally swamping everything else and not giving other plants any light to grow. Sometimes bramble, campion or perhaps gorse compete but not much else can. A few insect species like bracken but not much else does.
Unlike some other ferns it is not evergreen. It starts to grow in April and May and then it dies back in the autumn.
Attempts to control bracken by burning are doomed to failure as the plant has deep rhizomes that are totally unaffected by the flames and once the competitive vegetation goes so bracken is able to increase its grip. Indeed, unintentional heath fires can hasten the spread of this unwelcome plant.
Related Post: