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Ostrich fern

Scientific name: Matteuccia struthiopteri

Matteuccia struthiopteris, commonly called ostrich fern, is a clump-forming, upright to arching, deciduous fern which typically grows 2-3 feet tall in cultivation, but may reach 6 feet tall in moist, cool climates in the wild.

As the name suggests, the fronds of this fern exhibit the feathery appearance of long ostrich plumes.


The showy parts of this fern are the finely dissected, medium green fronds which, as the common name suggests, exhibit the feathery appearance of long ostrich plumes. The vegetative fronds emerge at the narrow base of the clumps in spring as the familiar “fiddleheads” from where they unfurl to a maximum length of 4 feet.

Fun Facts

Ferns are non-flowering plants.

How Do They Reproduce?

This plant spreads through its rhizomes, or roots.

To learn more, watch this video.


Found where there are moist soils in shady areas, such as along streams, with a high tree canopy.

In optimal situations, they will form dense colonies.

Human Connections

Immature fronds are called fiddleheads and  are a popular cooked vegetable for the very short season they are present.

In addition to being flavorful, they also contain omega acids and iron.

How You Can Help

These make for an excellent addition to a shady area in your yard! They will spread, over time and form a colony, pushing out weeds.

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