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Organic Gardening: Bracken Fern in the Compost?

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 1, Views: 286
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Washington, DC
(Zone 7a)

October 16, 2001
3:57 PM

Post #16220

Is it okay to compost bracken fern? Based on info extracted from a website on Ferns and Fern Allies (see below), it sounds as though it might not be a good idea. Or would composting inactivate any allelopathic tendencies? Thanks for your help.

"Allelopathy: Bracken fern's production and release of allelopathic chemicals is an important factor in its ability to dominate other vegetation. Farther north no allelopathic chemicals are released from the green fronds but are readily leached from standing dead fronds. Herbs may be inhibited for a full growing season after bracken fern is removed, apparently because active plant toxins remain in the soil.

Bracken fern has been found to be mutagenic and carcinogenic in rats and mice, usually causing stomach or intestinal cancer. It is implicated in some leukemias, bladder cancer, and cancer of the esophagus and stomach in humans. All parts of the plant, including the spores, are carcinogenic, and face masks are recommended for people working in dense bracken. The toxins in bracken fern pass into cow's milk. The growing tips of the fronds are more carcinogenic than the stalks."

Ottawa, ON
(Zone 4a)

October 16, 2001
11:27 PM

Post #148002

Yikes! I guess that's one fern I won't dig up in the woods!

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