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Interrupted Fern

Scientific name: Osmunda claytoniana

Osmunda claytoniana, commonly called Interrupted fern, is a native fern which usually occurs on moist, wooded slopes of ravines and wet woodlands. It is vase-shaped and can reach 3 feet in height.


Broad fronds are “interrupted” in the middle by  fertile spore-bearing pinnae (leaflets) which typically fall off in mid summer, thus giving rise to the common name. Those spores are fertile, and when they fall onto the right type of soil, they propagate. This is why there are often broad swaths of these ferns in one place.


Like all ferns, it does not flower, but reproduces through spores.

Fun Facts

This plant has stayed the pretty much the same for the last 180 million years!

For Your Garden

Plant these and other native ferns in a shady moist spot, and they will thrive and multiply, creating a pretty colony. Like all ferns, it is deer and rabbit resistant!


Often they will be found with the cinnamon ferns and sensitive ferns, as they all enjoy the same moist, shady habitat.

Similar Species

It can be quite hard to tell apart from the cinnamon fern, when both lack their characteristic-traits late in the season.

Human Connections

Its fiddleheads are not edible.

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