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Matteuccia struthiopteris

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich fern is a clump-forming, deciduous fern with upright to arching fronds. It spreads in favorable conditions and is quite impressive in mass plantings. The medium green fronds are finely dissected, and as the common name suggests, resemble ostrich plumes. Much shorter brown fertile fronds remain on plants through the winter adding another season of interest. Ferns provide seasonal cover and hiding places for ground frequenting birds such as waterthrushes, wood thrushes, robins and wrens. They also serve as protection for wood and green frogs, tree frogs and toads.

Benefits

  • Provides seasonal cover for birds and other wildlife
  • Great spreading ground cover in shaded or moist sunny areas
  • Thrives in moist soil and will naturalize in favorable conditions
  • Fronds are used in fresh arrangements
  • The fiddleheads or emerging fronds, are a delicacy

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in part to full shade. Tolerates full sun with sufficient moisture. Best results in rich soil with constant moisture. Soil must never be allowed to dry out. Spreads by underground rhizomes to form dense colonies in optimum growing conditions.



Height
3-6 Feet

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Spread
3-8 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 2-7

Native Range

Forested wetlands, creeks and riverbanks; Newfoundland to British Columbia south to Virginia and Missouri.

Native Trivia

Ostrich fern fiddleheads are prized delicacies especially in the northern New England states. Fiddleheads are the young coiled fern leaves that resemble the spiral end of a violin and appear at the end of the frond when it emerges from the ground. It's said ostrich fern fiddleheads have a flavor similar to an asparagus-green bean-okra cross and a texture that's appealingly chewy.

Good Companions
Sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Characteristics & Attributes

Shade
Sun
Songbirds
Deer Resistant
Wet Sun
Ground cover
Plan Sub Group
Medium to Tall Perennials
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Soil
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Wet
Attracts Wildlife
Amphibians
Mammals
Habitat Collection
Songbird
Native Habitat
Forest
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Green
Uses
Bog, water garden
Cut or dried flower
Mass plant
Naturalizes
Native to
Alaska
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Dakota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin