Typically growing in forests, this fiddlehead-producing fern is extremely tolerate of shade and moist soils. It has few pest and insect issues, making it a fairly ideal garden plant. It produces lovely foliage from a rosette and can reproduce (albeit slowly) by spreading rhizomes.
Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)
Deciduous: yes (goes into dormancy during winter)
Hardiness Zones: 3-7
Height: 3-6 feet
Diameter: 5-8 feet
Growth Rate: moderate to fast
Root System: deep, extensive
Subspecies: ‘Jumbo’ (much larger, fronds grow up to 7 feet tall), ‘The King’ (may be synonymous with ‘Jumbo’)
Tolerates: rabbits, deer, erosion
Problems (major): no major insect or pest issues
Problems (minor): hot and humid conditions can majorly damage a fern
Poisonous: presumably no (although some ferns contain carcinogens)
Soil requirements: clay and wet soils
Air Requirements: prefers moist, cooler temperatures
Watering requirement: medium to water
Sun requirement: light shade to heavy shade
Fiddleheads present: yes
Compound fronds: yes
Tree Fern: no
Blade length: Sterile fronds (which start out as “fiddleheads”) grow up to 4 feet long; dark brown, fertile fronds produce spores and grow up to 2 feet long.
Rhizome length: rhizomes can send up new fronds every few feet
This fern grows particularly well in heavily shaded, moist areas. These typically grow in forests with high annual rainfall
The “fiddleheads” are sometimes cooked and eaten in salads or independently. Frequently used as ornamentals or specimen plants for their attractive foliage.
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