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In parts of the uplands of Britain bracken only dominates the vegetation for a short time, only really getting going in mid June and collapsing quickly in October. The bright spring green which appears as a mist on the hills is gradually replaced by the dark green of mid summer. In the autumn the colour changes suddenly to a rich red brown which dramatically marks out the bracken from a considerable distance and stays the same until the following spring. Stands of bracken contrast with the pale yellow tones of the dead leaves of purple moor grass and dark browns of the heathers, even from a couple of miles away.

While the bracken is high however it can be virtually impenetrable forming very dense stands, well over head height,  making it virtually impossible to see the topography of the land immediately in front of you. The associated vegetation under the canopy of the fern is relatively limited with just a few commonly associated plants such as heath bedstraw and tormentil. When the bracken collapses in the autumn it often brings down small saplings with it such as rowan or birch which are then soon eaten by sheep.