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Osmunda regalis

Common Name(s):
Flowering fern, Royal fern
Ferns, Native Plants

Osmunda regalis, commonly called royal fern, is a tall, deciduous, native fern which usually occurs on moist bluffs and ledges and along streams (sometimes growing in the water).  Typically grows in clumps to 2-3' tall, but with constant moisture can reach 6' in height. Broad fronds have large, well-separated pinnae (leaflets) which give this fern an almost pea-family appearance. Fronds typically turn yellow to brown in autumn. Spores are located in brown, tassel-like, fertile clusters at the tips of the fronds, thus giving rise to the additional common name of flowering fern for this plant. Osmunda fiber used in the potting of orchids comes from the fibrous roots of these ferns.

It is best grown in medium to wet soils in part shade. It prefers moist, rich, humusy, acidic soils, but adapts to lesser conditions. Also prefers cool summer climates where it tolerates close to full sun as long as given consistent moisture. Full sun exposure is not recommended.

Golden clusters of spore cases appear on the stalks in the summer.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:   Summer                             

Wildlife Value:    This plant is seldom damaged by deer.  It provides excellent ground cover.


2-6 ft.
The Royal Fern has a binnate blade. The pinnae resemble locust tree leaves with only a few scattered hairs. The fronds are pale pink as they emerge in spring. The pinna not opposite and widely spaced. The pinnule is narrow oblong with blunt or rounded tip. The stipe is rounded with a slightly grooved face. A congested cluster of bead-like sori on fertile pinnae at the tip of fronds.
Sun, Part shade, shade
naturalize, deciduous, rain garden, deer resistant

NCCES plant id: 213

Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
Superior National Forest-, CC BY - 2.0
Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
bathyporeia, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
Ian Bryson, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
Nancy Magnusson, CC BY-NC-2.0
Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
Ettore Balocchi, CC BY - 2.0
Osmunda regalis Osmunda regalis
Miguel, CC BY-NC-ND - 4.0