The Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is a crown-forming, but also colony-forming, fern of northeastern North America. This fern grows from a completely vertical crown, favoring riverbanks and sandbars, but sends out lateral stolons to form new crowns, thus forming dense colonies resistant to destruction by floodwaters.
The fronds are very dimorphic, with the sterile fronds being almost vertical, and long-tapering to the base but short-tapering to the tip, so that they resemble ostrich plumes, hence the name. The fronds may grow three or more feet tall under ideal conditions. The fertile fronds are brown when ripe, with highly modified and constricted leaf tissue curled over the sporangia.
The ostrich fern is a popular ferns for the garden. The fiddleheads are also popular as a cooked green, considered a delicacy.
Last updated: 08-15-2005 22:32:36