Bracken close-up in woodland Loch Maree / Glas Leitir. (file ref. K33-18). 2001/02 © John MacPherson/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or


Bracken is our most widespread large fern species, covering large areas of Scotland’s moors and uplands.

Bracken is a remarkably successful example of this ancient group of plants. You can even find it in the tropics.

But bracken has become a problem plant in some parts of Scotland since it stopped being harvested widely for uses such as livestock bedding and thatching.

Changes to grazing and burning management may have also contributed to the rapid expansion of bracken.

Innovative new uses for bracken – e.g. as part of compost mixes – could help to solve the bracken invasion problem in tandem with good burning practice.

Protection of bracken

Discover how Scotland’s wild plants and fungi are protected.