Current issue: 56(3)
The objective of the present study was to obtain information on the regeneration by spores of bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn.) as well as the permanence and vegetative spreading of the clones. Prevention of bracken fern, which can hinder forest regeneration, is possible only when the basic facts of the life cycle is known. It would be useful to know if it is probable that bracken fern can become prevalent by spore regeneration, and to what extent it invades forest land by vegetative spreading.
No bracken fern sporelings were found, and the experiments of regeneration by spores were unsuccessful, therefore, the studies were concentrated on the clones. Due to the fire tolerance of the plant, it was expected that the clone material would show gradation according to the periods of fire. The first part of the work concerns individual variation in bracken, the second part concentrates on the data collected from sample plots, which latest fire could be dated from the trees.
The results of the studied clones confirm the correlation between the stands interpreted as clones and the length of the post-fire period. The stands were delimited to clones by their individual characteristics. The spreading on average sites (Vaccinium and Myrtillus type forests) was in average 35.8±2 cm annually. It is concluded that bracken fern regeneration by spores is very rare in Finland and that it has been rarer during the last 50 years compared to the preceding period. This is probably caused by the end of slash-and-burn cultivation and decrease of forest fires in Finland. Bracken fern clones often survive the fires through their rhizomes, and fragments of old clones originating before the fire could be found in the study areas. These clones may be even 300 years old. Especially in its northern areas of distribution, bracken fern is connected with settlement and old slash and burn sites. Regeneration by spores in the northern distribution areas seem to be less than in the southern areas.