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Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) Other scientific names: Matteuccia pensylvanica, Pteretis nodulosa, Pteretis pensylvanica, Struthiopteris pensylvanica

French names: Matteuccie fougиre-а-L'Autriche

Family: (Dryopteridaceae)

Distinctive features: All fronds grow from a single black knob.

Similar species:
  •   (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) - grows in wetter areas, has white-velvety lower stems; does not grow from a single black knob.
  •   (Osmunda claytoniana) - does not have a separate fertile frond; does not grow from a single black knob.
  •   (Thelypteris palustris) - smaller; crooked stem; fronds grow singly; grows in wetter areas.
  •   (Woodwardia virginica) - uncommon; fronds grow singly.

Fronds:

Height: 90-120 cm (35-47 in)

Habitat: , Wet Areas;  Forests in rich damp soil.

Uses: Edible - this is the preferred species to eat. However, it should only be eaten in moderation as all ferns contain varying amounts of carcinogenic compounds.

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Very common.

Notes: Not evergreen, but the fertile fronds persist through the winter.
Frequently confused with .

Photographs: 178 photographs available, of which 19 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

A classic (typical) Ostrich Fern.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Classic Ostrich Fern shape and growth form. Note that this one is in standing water. They will grow in wet areas if the area is only wet for a while in the spring. This photo was taken at the end of May.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Nice patch of Ostrich Fern in a clearing in the woods.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Note how all the fronds/stalks grow from a single point - a black knob.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Here's a closeup view of this black knob. This is in mid-April, before the fiddleheads start to grow.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Early fiddleheads.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Ready to pick and eat. Ostrich Fern is common enough that its fiddleheads can be harvested for personal use without worrying too much about eradicating the species. Of course, prudence is always in order when harvesting any wild plants.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Too far gone to eat.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Typical frond shape. Note how the tip narrows abruptly.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Closer view showing how the tip of the frond narrows abruptly and comes to a rather blunt point.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Underside of a frond.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Underside of a leaflet.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Fertile frond. In Ostrich Fern these are separate and quite different from the infertile fronds.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Last year's fertile fronds. They're black and easily spotted the next spring as they persist through the winter.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Closeup view of an old fertile frond.

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Some fertile fronds from the previous year scattered along a stream bank in late April.

Range map for

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the and is displayed here in accordance with their )

 




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