The Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) can be found throughout the world, with five varieties located in North America. You can find this fern in all the 50 states except, surprisingly, Nebraska. Generally, these ferns appear at the edges of woodland or in open fields and alongside roads. They can be one of the first plants to grow after an area has been burned.

When the fern first emerges from the earth, in early spring, it begins in a tightly curled roll, called a fiddlehead. Fiddleheads have been considered a source of food by humans throughout much of history. The fern fronds also serve as food for some caterpillers (the larve of the Lepidoptera order of insects).

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© 2011 Ashley P. Halsey