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By Prenzl

Berlin, Germany De

I'm designing (sort of), a natural woodland garden and would love to have many ferns. Whilst researching what ferns are best for the soil conditions, I discovered the horrors that apparently lie within Bracken! I'm talking 'Ptaquiloside'. Needless to say, this is the last thing I want to introduce to my garden.
Does anyone know if it is only Bracken that contains this poison or all ferns. It's the slightly softer fern I was hoping to introduce. Please see pix. I hope they make sense..
I don't know it's name but if anyone can give me some pointers/info, I'd be most grateful.

Bracken Soft_fern



It's just bracken, and you certainly wouldn't want to introduce that into a garden! Have a look at Polystichums and Dryopteris species.

30 Oct, 2015


If you are planning to buy your ferns don't worry as I can't imagine a garden centre selling bracken! Suggest you Google Long Acre Plants and have a look at their fern section. If you need help they will answer email enquiries if you can't get them on the phone. Ferns generally enjoy damp leafy spots but if you have dry places Polysticum setiferum and Dryopteris felis mas are two which will be OK there.

Bracken is I think the only one which sends up a long strong stem which then has the fronds growing from it like leaves on a twig. Most ferns have the fronds growing directly from the ground. No need to worry about the poison aspect of it though - only applies if you eat it, and even then people used to eat the very young shoots in spring (not recommended!) The reason we don't want it in the garden is that it spreads very quickly in a bid to take over. Getting on for half of our everyday garden plants are poisonous if you eat them.

30 Oct, 2015


I think you're worrying about possible allelopathic effects regarding the bracken - you need not worry too much - grass, heather and bracken are allelopathic, all three discourage large shrubs and trees from growing fast (its the reason why, when planting a new tree, you're advised to keep the area around the trunk for a certain distance free of other plants and, particularly, grass). They do this because they'll be shaded out eventually, so they try to slow down the growth of the plants around them to extend their period in the sun, so to speak. But its a minimal effect on its own (natural competition for resources is probably about as strong an influence), and certainly, no other fern type plants, so far as I know, exert major allelopathic effects on the plants around them by means of naturally produced chemical inhibitors. This doesn't mean you should consider bracken as a plant to use - once in, you never get rid of it and it pops up everywhere.

If you're more worried about the toxin and mammals (like us, or cats or dogs) its fine so long as the plant isn't eaten. But I still wouldn't recommend bracken...

30 Oct, 2015


Thanks all! Quick replies!!
I never though of that really, a Garden Centre's hardly likely to sell carcinogenic plants, I hope!

Thanks again..

30 Oct, 2015


Maybe, maybe not, but they do sell poisonous or highly toxic plants - 52% of plants in the average garden are poisonous if eaten. The biggest reason they don't sell bracken is because no one wants it...

30 Oct, 2015


I had no idea grass is allopathic - pity it doesn't kill off the buttercups and clover in the lawn...

30 Oct, 2015

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