Common Names: Bracken, brake, eagle fern, Eastern brakenfern
A herbaceous perennial fern, deciduous in winter. The large, roughly triangular fronds are produced singly, arising upwards from an underground rhizome, and grow to 1 to 3 m tall; the main stem, or stipe, is up to 1 cm diameter at the base.
An adaptable plant, it readily colonizes disturbed areas.
Edible Notes: Bracken fiddeheads have a history of being eaten, however the plant is carcinogenic, and communities (mainly in Japan) where the young stems are used as a vegetable have some of the highest stomach cancer rates in the world. Not recommended. Fiddleheads from ferns can be purchased, when in season, in some gourmet or natural food stores. Most fiddleheads in markets are actually ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) species, however they are a close approximation for bracken fiddleheads.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.