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