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Matteuccia struthiopteris

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro

Matteuccia pensylvanica (Willd.) Raymond

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro var. pensylvanica (Willd.) Morton

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro var. pubescens (Terry) Clute

Onoclea struthiopteris (L.) Hoffm. p.p.

Onoclea struthiopteris (L.) Hoffm. var. pensylvanica (Willd.) B. Boivin

Pteretis nodulosa (Michx.) Nieuwl.

Pteretis pensylvanica (Willd.) Fernald

Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionPteridophytaFerns
ClassFilicopsida“Leptosporangiate” (has to do with how their spores form) ferns—includes most ferns
OrderPolypodialesPolypod ferns
FamilyDryopteridaceaeWood ferns (about 70% of the ferns)
GenusMatteucciaHonors Italian physicist Carlo Matteucci
SpeciesstruthiopterisFrom Latin struthio, “ostrich,” and Greek pteron, “wing,” for the shape of the fronds

About plant names...

Ostrich ferns are natives of North America, as well as temperate regions of the northern hemisphere throughout the world.

Identification: These ferns are among the largest of land (vs. tree ferns, reaching heights of up to 4' (1.3 m). Foragers for wild edibles will recognize the “fiddleheads,” or tightly coiled baby fronds, that appear in the spring. They often appear in clusters around a central point, leaning away from each other to produce a shape like an inverted cone as they unfurl. As the fern matures, each fiddlehead becomes an attractive long frond that resembles an ostrich plume. The frond becomes wider toward the end. These fronds are sterile, and reach 4' (1.3 m) or more in length and up to 12" (30 cm) in width. Fertile fronds appear during the summer, reaching up to 16" (40 cm) in length. About a third of this length is the petiole (stem); the rest is a compact, paddle-shaped structure that turns from green to brown, persisting through the winter. In many ferns, sterile and fertile fronds are more similar to each other, so the stark difference between the two in this fern is an identifying characteristic.

Edibility: Young, tightly coiled fiddleheads, the state vegetable of Vermont, are prized by many, and are often available for sale in grocery stores in the spring. Or you can find your own, provided that they are less than 6" (15 cm) high and still tightly furled. Add them to salads or boil them for 10 minutes to produce a dish like asparagus.

References:

Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families of Northwestern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 164

Peterson, Lee Allen, Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants of Eastern/Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977, p. 232

Online References:

Matteuccia struthiopteris on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Matteuccia struthiopteris on the Hardy Fern Library

Matteuccia struthiopteris at Illinois Wildflowers

Matteuccia struthiopteris at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Matteuccia struthiopteris on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Matteuccia struthiopteris on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Matteuccia struthiopteris on CalPhotos

Matteuccia struthiopteris on eFloras

Matteuccia struthiopteris on the United States Department of Agriculture's Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/4/2012 · Willard Brook State Park, Blue Trail, Ashby, MA
≈ 6 × 7" (14 × 18 cm)

Matteuccia struthiopteris description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 May 2016.

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Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/5/2012 · Beaver Brook Association Trails, W. Hollis St., Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 6" (19 × 14 cm)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/4/2012 · Willard Brook State Park, Blue Trail, Ashby, MA
≈ 7 × 9" (18 × 23 cm)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/24/2016 · Blue Trail, Willard Brook State Park, Ashby, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/10/2016 · Old Long Loop, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 10" (17 × 24 cm)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

5/9/2016 · Rachel Carson Interpretive Trail, Kennebunk, ME
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern)

4/29/2012 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME · By J Gordon Williamson

Range:

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