Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Case Against Bracken by Mal Dingle, Strathyre

 The biodiversity at the top of the beautiful Tyness Burn Path
Bracken is a prehistoric plant. It has survived for approximately 55 million years by 3 main specialisation methods:
  1. By being a hermaphrodite, able to reproduce by itself and then disperse its seeds by wind distribution. Each plant disperses hundreds of spores, developed on the underside of its leaves. Within a few years one plant can cover an entire hillside. 
  2. By producing a carcinogen chemical makeup, giving it an unpleasant taste to animals and causing stomach cancer to those who eat it. Farmers will clear a field of bracken before allowing grazing animals onto it.
  3. It can grow up to 6 foot tall, blocking out the light to wild plants, soon becoming a monoculture. It presents no real danger to humans, although a study is being made into the high incidence of stomach cancer in Japan linked to their appetite for the young emerging frons of bracken.

Midway down the Tyness Burn path, the bracken marches upward
Bracken therefore produces no food for either our insects or our wildlife, stifles the bio-diversity of plant life (which does provide food for insects and wildlife) and is dangerous to our animals. 

For dog owners, it is also the preferred habitat of the Tick. You may believe that bracken provides  shelter for nesting birds from the eyes of preying Hawks etc, however, I think it also gives cover to small mammals such as rats and mice who would steal the eggs.  

That is my case against bracken. There is no easy way to rid ourselves of the plant. In fact it is probably impossible to do so however I would urge you to treat this plant as a pariah and to pull out any bracken that you can (especially when inside a group of wild plants such as heather).  When out and about on walks, just be aware of this pernicious plant!  A war on this plant!

Mal Dingle

LETI. Mal Dingle is the current secretary of The Loch Earn Tourism Initiative (LETI) group of Scottish Tourism business members who live and work in the neighbouring villages of Balquhidder, Strathyre, Lochearnhead and St Fillans.  Mal is also the owner of Rosebank House bed and breakfast in Strathyre.  The Tyness Burn path runs along the back of the grounds of Rosebank House and is one of the many naturally beautiful walking routes that Mal and LETI members recommend within The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.