Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ostrich Fern
Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ostrich Fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ostrich Fern

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Deer ResistantRain GardenPart ShadeShadeBird Friendly
ostrich fern
Matteuccia struthiopteris

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.


  • 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

Native Range

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

Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)



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.




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.


Mature Size: 4-6ft. Tall x 3-4ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Full Shade

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    American Beauties Offer Solution Based Plant Collections to Help you Choose

    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

    Our Plant Tags Hold the Secrets to Success

    Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice. 

    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


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    Best Plants for Birds - Double sided printout for download

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