©Jon Hawkins


Scientific name: Pteridium aquilinum
Our most familiar fern, bracken can be found growing in dense stands on hillsides, moorland, heathland and in woodlands. It is very large and dies back in winter, turning the landscape orangey-brown.

Species information


Height: up to 2m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Bracken is the UK's most common fern and grows in dense stands on heathland, moorland, hillsides and in woodland. It is a large fern that favours dry, acid soils and spreads by underground rhizomes. Unlike many ferns, bracken dies back in winter, leaving brown, withered fronds that pepper the landscape. In the spring, the tightly curled fronds appear, grow and unfurl.

How to identify

Bracken forms dense stands in many habitats. It can be easily recognised by its large, branched fronds which appear in spring and are green when mature, but die back to brown.



Did you know?

Bracken is poisonous to grazing livestock and small mammals.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts ensure that the habitats they manage are well-balanced through a number of conservation measures, including removing overpowering species like bracken, scrub-cutting and controlled grazing. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from stockwatching to raising awareness about wildlife.