Brake / Maiden-hair Family

Goldback Fern © DSchiel

Pteridaceae (ter-id-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Stems generally dark and wiry
    • Fronds almost always compound
    • Sori typically hidden under frond margin

    Description (Jepson)

      • Polypodiopsida (ferns)
        • A group of early vascular plants that produce spores (no flowers or seeds)
      • Perennial ferns from creeping or erect rhizomes (horizontal underground stems)
      • Fronds almost always compound (divided into leaflets)
        • 1-6 levels of division (pinnation)
      • Stems generally dark and wiry
      • Sori (sacs containing reproductive cells/spores) typically hidden in the curled-under margins of leaflets, sometimes along veins; no indusia (a membrane covering sori until mature)


        • Approximately 500 species worldwide
          • Includes maiden-hair, brake, and lace ferns
        • Scientific name from the included genus Pteris, from the Greek for “fern”
        • Common name from the Scandinavian for “bracken,” a coarse fern
        • Represented by 3 species at Edgewood

        See General References

        Specific References

          American Fern Society. About Ferns.

            U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture. What Are Ferns?.

            Browse Edgewood Plants in this Family