Pteridium aquilinum, Bracken Fern, Western Brackenfern, Bracken Fern.

Pteridium aquilinum, Bracken Fern, Western Brackenfern, Bracken Fern. From temperate to subtropical climates, I've seen Bracken Fern throughout North America from Maine to Florida to California, in temperate South America, China, Vietnam, much of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Georgia and elsewhere. It's one of the few plants that doesn't rely on accidents of human history to travel wherever it wishes to go on the planet. Its reproductive spores are so tiny and light that they catch a ride aloft on random winds all over Earth and establish populations wherever they wish. It is the ultimate successful invasive native plant. It's native here. It's native there. It's native everywhere. And it is a weed. Bracken fern is also controversial, because it is considered desirably edible as a spring-harvested fiddlehead by some, and by others a poisonous plant, the ingestion of which should be avoided. Bracken fern contains varying amounts of a carcinogenic compound called ptalquiloside, which is linked to cancer in livestock and humans who eat it fresh. But the toxic compound is water soluble and traditional preparation methods in Japan, Korea, and elsewhere may render it safe to eat in moderation.

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