PlantsMatteuccia→Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Common names:
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Give a thumbs up Fiddlehead Fern
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Fern
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7a
Plant Height: 3 to 6 feet (.9-1.8 m)
Plant Spread: 3 to 5 feet (.9-1.5 m)
Leaves: Deciduous
Underground structures: Rhizome
Suitable Locations: Bog gardening
Uses: Groundcover
Salad greens
Will Naturalize
Resistances: Rabbit Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Stolons and runners
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots

Freshly unfolding fronds, in setting sunlight..

The All Things Plants Top 25 List of Shade Garden PlantsThe All Things Plants Top 25 List of Shade Garden Plants
By dave on May 3, 2014

Let's open Shade Gardens week with a list of the most active entries in our database. Among the thousands of plants that want full or mostly shade, which ones have the most pictures, comments and other details added? Let's find out!

(Full article15 comments)
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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Sep 21, 2018 8:32 AM

Ostrich Fern is a common species that is native from Virginia way up to the Artic Circle and to northern Eurasia in swamps and moist open woods. It is commonly sold by many garden centers and commonly found in northern landscapes. It has bright green, soft, thin textured sterile fronds to about 5 feet long that are widest towards the top and tapering at the base. It also has shorter, stiff, fertile fronds that hold the sori (spore producing structures) that stay upright and brown into the winter. It needs soil that is constantly moist or wet to keep from having the fronds becoming tattered and browned in late summer. Most every year at my parent's home in northeast Illinois, the Ostrich Ferns I planted at the base of some shrubs would become browned, tattered, and falling down in late summer when it was normally dry. This species does spread a lot and quickly by its rhizomes (underground stems).

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Posted by threegardeners (Brockville, Ontario, Canada - Zone 5a) on Oct 26, 2011 6:16 PM

These can be found growing in moist, rich soil.

When the new fronds are roughly 2 inches tall they can be harvested (just take 2 out of every 5 emerging heads) and boiled (after rinsing and removing the brown husk). They are also delicious sauteed in butter.

They can also be eaten raw as a snack or in salads.

Note: never eat any wild plant unless you are 100 % certain of its identity.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Jan 14, 2012 3:37 PM

A fern of northeastern swamps and wooded river bottoms in alkaline soils, Ostrich Fern forms large colonies of big, erect, vase-shaped clumps sometimes reaching 6 feet in height. In cultivation, however, expect moderate spreading and half that height. Individual fronds are plume-like and widest above the middle and they form bold, v-shaped clumps. While the sterile fronds (the more numerous leaves) are deciduous and die to the ground for the winter, the fertile leaves remain as short, dark, compact, woody fronds. In the spring, you may enjoy eating the fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern which taste something like asparagus. (Sunlight Gardens)

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Posted by Brynhildr (Ohio) on Sep 14, 2018 9:05 PM

Not sure of variety. Mine are about 2 1/2 ft. tall, spread readily.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Beautiful by Paul2032 Sep 1, 2013 11:58 PM 1
Ostrich ferns by Srmiller72 Sep 18, 2021 5:25 PM 8
What did you do in the garden today? by Zenni Dec 6, 2021 12:25 PM 391
Fern ID please. by antsinmypants Jul 22, 2020 8:42 PM 8
Suggestions for a stream bank by RickM May 26, 2019 8:17 AM 4
What species is this? 21 (Binomial name please) by NightCrow Jun 11, 2018 9:05 PM 5
recalcitrant and semi-recalcitrant* seeds by Leftwood Dec 3, 2019 6:57 AM 19
2017 Spring Plant Swap CHAT by RickM Jun 2, 2017 3:39 PM 443
please confirm if this is Ostrich Fern by SpringGreenThumb Oct 22, 2016 9:44 AM 15
Yardening in the Mid-Atlantic by Eric4home Dec 5, 2021 7:57 AM 4,183
Harts Tongue Fern,..'Phyllitis scolopendrium'. by glengarry23 Mar 12, 2015 5:57 PM 4

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