Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)

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
Age: perennial
Root System: deep, extensive
Family: Onocleaceae
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
Aerial: no
Rosette: 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

Notable characteristics:
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.

Sources used:

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_6 A bunch of emerging fiddleheads (photo uploaded in May 2005)

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_1 Several ostrich ferns growing at the University of Helsinki botanical garden.

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_2 A long frond (photo taken in Osaka-fu Japan)

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_3 Fertile fronds  in spring, photo by Carsten Niehaus in April 2005.

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_4 Several ostrich ferns growing near a small stream (picture uploaded 1 August 2008)

Matteuccia_struthiopteris_5 Many ostrich ferns growing along another stream (picture uploaded 16 July 2011)

I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to its original creator(s).



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One response to “Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)

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