- Common Name(s):
- Cinnamon fern
- Ferns, Native Plants
Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, commonly called cinnamon fern, is a native fern which occurs in moist, boggy ground along streams and on shaded ledges and bluffs. It typically grows in clumps to 2-3' tall, but with constant moisture can reach 5' in height. Separate spore-bearing, stiff, fertile fronds appear in early spring, quickly turning brown. The familiar "fiddleheads" also emerge from the base of the plant and unfurl into large, erect, pinnately-compound, yellowish-green, sterile fronds (2-4' long) which remain attractive throughout the summer and turn yellow in autumn. The common name of this plant is in reference to the cinnamon colored fibers found near the frond bases. Osmunda fiber used in the potting of orchids comes from the roots of these ferns.
It is easily grown in medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, rich, humusy, acidic soils, but adapts to lesser conditions.
This plant has compact, horizontal rhizome, it growth is vigorous. It may go dormant with dry soil. It is slow to establish but long-lived.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Leaf: Spring, Summer, Fall
Wildlife Value: This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer. It provides excellent ground cover. It has scale-like hairs (the fuzz on stems) used by songbirds to line their nests. Birds like the Kentucky Warbler nest in clumps of these ferns.
- 24-48 in.
- Cinnamon fern features circular clusters of arching fronds. Sterile fronds are lanceolate, pinnate-pinnatified with dense rusty hairs beneath the base of each pinna. The pinna are narrow, lance-shaped, pointed, deeply cut and nearly opposite. Bright green, lacy, broad leaves appear in early spring. Cinnamon-colored spore cases appear on the stalks in the late spring and die by mid-summer.
- Full sun (if site is wet) to full shade
NCCES plant id: 211