Bracken is from the genus Pteridium and is among several other large ferns. A fern is a plant that has alternating generations of large plants that produce spores and small plants that produce sex cells such as the egg and sperm. Bracken is recorded to have been around for over 55 million years and is one of the most successful ferns. This plant has large triangular fronds from wide underground rootstocks and it often forms thickets. They are typically 2 to 6 feet high (0.6 to 2 meters).
Bracken is commonly found on moorland, which consists of temperate grasslands, savannas and shrub lands. They are low-growing vegetation that can be found on every continent except Antarctica and in all environments other than deserts. Like trees, Bracken will loose its leaves in the winter. It requires soil that is well drained and most often can be found on the sides of hills.
Toxic to Horses
Bracken is carcinogenic to mice, rats, horses, ponies and cattle if ingested, which means it causes cancer. Most animals instinctively avoid it unless food is in short supply. There is both acute and chronic poisoning when it comes to cattle. Acute poisoning is the most common. Horses, ponies and pigs will experience vitamin B deficiency. Bracken damages blood cells and destroys thiamine.
When horses or other farm animals ingest Bracken they will have inadequate levels of thiamine (vitamin B). Thiamine deficiency may cause signs of depression, muscle tremors, severe loss of coordination and slow heartbeat.
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