More on Bracken

Dear Readers, you might remember that, in our discussion on bracken, it was stated that it was known as ‘eagle fern’ because of the pattern in a transverse section of the root. Some people also thought that it looked like the oak tree that Charles II was said to have hidden in after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 (thanks to Sara for pointing out that I’d put down the wrong monarch (again)). Once I’d sorted out my Charles I’s and Charles II’s , I was delighted to be sent the botanical print above by long-time reader Anne Guy. It shows a cross-section of the root of the plant, and indeed it does look rather like a flying bird. However, as with all things it does rather depend on how you look at it. The root cross-section below (from a paper on hemorrhagic disease in Belgian cattle) is thought by the authors to resemble a double-headed eagle, but if you tilt your head and look at it upside down, it also looks very like a tree.

Cross-section of bracken root

And how about this one, from the book ‘Scandinavian Ferns’ by Benjamin Øllgaard and Kirsten Tind, Rhodos, 1993 (the root is in the bottom right-hand corner). Double-headed eagle or tree?

Root cross section in bottom right-hand corner

So, it seems as if the ‘eagle fern’ moniker for this plant is perfectly understandable. I wonder if it should also be known as ‘oak  fern’ as well, though? As with so many things, I suspect that it just depends on how you look at it.


5 thoughts on “More on Bracken

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I think it’s fascinating due to its fractal properties – i.e. where each small leaf is replicated in shape (more or less) by a group of those leaves and they into the larger collection (or ‘frond’?).


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