Karen Schuster (Class of 2009) sent this fern photograph that she took at south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area on the February 7, the second volunteer class at which we saw 2 adult and one juvenile eagle soar overhead. This fern sometimes is called eagle fern (Pteridium aquilinum). Other common names include bracken fern and brake fern. Its species name, aquilinum is derived from the aquila, the Latin word for eagle. The shape of its mature ferns is said to resemble the shape of an eagle wing.
This robust, rhizomatous fern can sometimes be weedy and has responded to last year’s roller-chopping with rampant growth at the southern end of the conservation area seen above. responds to disturbance. One of few ferns that grows in full sun, eagle fern is tolerant of a wide range of light and soil conditions from acid to alkaline.
Note the sloping sand pines (Pinus clausa) in background, and the substantial area now inhabited by this fern. Very light spores are said to account for its global distribution throughout temperate and subtropical regions of the world. It is one of the most widespread fern species.
A young frond is pictured above. Be aware the the young fiddleheads of this fern are known to be carcinogenic and should not be consumed. The fiddleheads of almost all other ferns can be consumed safely and often are regarded as a delicacy.