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Onoclea struthiopteris

Previously known as:

  • Matteuccia struthiopteris
Phonetic Spelling
on-oh-KLEE-uh struth-ee-op-TER-iss
Description

Ostrich fern is an easy to grow fern in the Aspleniaceae family native to Eurasia.  It is found growing in swampy moist areas, thickets, and the understory of woodlands. With erect rosette crown of bright green fronds it reaches a height of 3 to 5 feet and a width of 2 to 4 feet.   

They naturally occur in heavy, moist soil but adapt to light, rich soil and prefer constant moisture. Plant in partial to full shade but it will tolerate sun with cool temperatures and adequate moisture.  Divide the crowns in the spring to propagate.

In general, ferns are resistant to browsing by deer. The emerging fiddleheads are edible and make an interesting addition to an understory woodland garden, planted in a shade border, or along a slope to prevent erosion. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  The stout rhizomes send out slender underground runners that form new plant colonies which can be weedy.

VIDEO Created by NC State Extension's Homegrown series featuring Mark Weathington, Director of JC Raulston Arboretum.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Four-Season Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Barbara Alexander'
'Barbara Alexander'
Tags:
#deciduous#edible plant#easy to grow#shade garden#showy leaves#fern#slopes#erosion control#aggressive#deer resistant#thickets#groundcover#shade border#understory planting#wet soils tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Barbara Alexander'
'Barbara Alexander'
Tags:
#deciduous#edible plant#easy to grow#shade garden#showy leaves#fern#slopes#erosion control#aggressive#deer resistant#thickets#groundcover#shade border#understory planting#wet soils tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Onoclea
    Species:
    struthiopteris
    Family:
    Aspleniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Temp. Eurasia
    Edibility:
    Fiddleheads can be cooked and consumed
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plants reproduces via spores.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Vase-shaped clump of arching, oblong, lance shaped fronds; vegetative fronds are plumelike, broadest above the middle and tapering to the base; 30-50 pairs of pinnatifid pinnae; tip of frond is abruptly constricted; 6-12 in. lyre-shaped fertile fronds produced in summer, become brown and woody; short stipe is slightly covered with whitish hairs
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Near Septic
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade