Plant DetailShow Menu

Cinnamon Fern Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Previously known as:

  • Osmunda cinnamomea
Phonetic Spelling
os-MUN-duh-strum sin-uh-MOH-mee-um
Description

Cinnamon fern is a native fern which occurs in the 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 6' 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, its growth is vigorous.  It may go dormant with dry soil.  It is slow to establish but long-lived. 

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:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#rain garden#wildlife plant#fern#wet sites#pond margins#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#native fern#cover#food source spring#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#mammals#streams#audubon#woodlands
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#rain garden#wildlife plant#fern#wet sites#pond margins#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#native fern#cover#food source spring#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#mammals#streams#audubon#woodlands
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Osmundastrum
    Species:
    cinnamomeum
    Family:
    Osmundaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
    Wildlife Value:
    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.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heavy shade, This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Native Plant
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plants reproduces via spores.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves in circular clusters of arching fronds. Sterile fronds are lanceolate, pinnate-pinnatifid 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.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Pond
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Wet Soil