Definition of bracken in US English:



  • 1A tall fern with coarse lobed fronds, which occurs worldwide and can cover large areas.

    Pteridium aquilinum, family Dennstaedtiaceae (or Hypolepidaceae)

    • ‘It is easy to think of a very young seedling (the commonest experimental object in plant science) as being an individual, but which is the individual bracken plant in a huge clonal patch of bracken?’
    • ‘At one stage they were shielded from frosts by bracken from the surrounding North York Moors - but then it was realised the vegetation left acid deposits.’
    • ‘The bracken has turned the crag into deep rust swathes and the banks of trees brushed neatly back by the winds climb the hillside in rainbow shades of autumn.’
    • ‘He moved the event forward from its usual August date to May because later in the year the course is covered in bracken and it is difficult to overtake on the narrow paths.’
    • ‘On the peaty hummocks of Yew Tree Heath in the north-east of the forest, where a few hessian-coloured fallow deer merge into the rust-tipped bracken, the only sounds are the wailing of a redshank and the hum of bees.’
    • ‘It looked reasonable from a distance but the bracken was taller than both my daughters, and there were more than a few moments of blind panic on my part.’
    • ‘It was simple to follow, grooved by bikes, but easy walking and only briefly affected by bracken near Bracken Hill.’
    • ‘With Ian massaging his arm, John collecting handfuls of stones to throw at the snake and Tim stripping the leaflets from a frond of bracken, they made their way through the undergrowth to the small pond.’
    • ‘Another team were being lashed by bracken fronds and splashed with water as they tried to cross the beck while blinded by blackened goggles.’
    • ‘The other especially weedy fern is bracken, which also unusually for pteridophytes has vessels.’
    • ‘You can pick out a range of subtle colours in the vegetation: the russet fronds of bracken, the fresh green stems of bilberry and the purple twigs of birch.’
    • ‘The ground was overgrown with wide-spread bracken and tall, matured trees blocked the view to the surrounding buildings.’
    • ‘Once through a gate I took to the open hill and the steep, rough climb up over heather and bracken covered moraines towards the end of the Braigh Blaich ridge that runs down from the head of the corrie.’
    • ‘This was a day of blinding heat amid the scent of mountain hay and the hillsides covered in bracken.’
    • ‘Worldwide, the fiddleheads most commonly consumed are those of bracken (Pteridium).’
    • ‘If the results are proved, it is hoped Government funding will be available to effectively control the growth and spread of bracken on open moorland and eradicate the virus through sheep vaccination and effective tick control.’
    • ‘They covered the bracken and clay and farms with houses that were built and sold to them by a coincidence of evangelicals.’
    • ‘It is concluded that mosses suffer detrimental effects after exposure to Asulox at concentrations similar to those that affect fern gametophytes such as bracken.’
    • ‘There would be no one to manage the walls, some areas would revert to scrub and bracken and eventually trees.’
    • ‘Penn Common is a rolling meadow of tall bracken, moss and the odd thicket of birch trees.’
    1. 1.1informal Any large coarse fern resembling bracken.
      • ‘Many ferns, such as false bracken, leather fern and Pteris cretica, are drought-tolerant once established.’


Middle English: of Scandinavian origin; related to Danish bregne, Swedish bräken.