Fern (Western bracken) Pteridium aquilinum pubescens
Natural. Wild herb to 6’ tall. Fern family. Only fern that is found world-wide and most widespread fern in BC in most coniferous forests.
Stems: Unlike most ferns, do not cluster from a compact base.
Fronds: single, large, coarse, light green, dying and brown in fall and often remaining erect all winter. Uncurled fronds or “fiddle heads” covered with soft brown hairs, appearing in spring from rhizomes.
Fiddle heads can be eaten raw or boiled like asparagus when young.
Roots can be roasted after stripping and pounding to remove fibre. Contains much starch.
Avoid eating large amounts of raw fiddle heads because they contain an enzyme, thiaminase, that destroys thiamine in the body resulting in Vitamin B1 deficiency. Cooking destroys the thiaminase.