Matteuccia struthiopteris

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Matteuccia struthiopteris or Ostrich Fern is a beautiful light green fern with erect leaves.

Growth is fast and it can cover an empty space quite rapidly.

This is a very hardy, tall fern.

Description:

Matteuccia struthiopteris grows up to 1-1,7 m. It forms colonies through the extending rhizomes.

It produces sterile fronds around the exterior and fertile fronds at the interior of the plant. Sterile fronds die in the winter, fertile fronds remain till next spring.

The fertile fronds are shorter than the sterile fronds (40-60 cm/15-24″) and turn brown when mature.

Use:

  • Ornamental.
  • The fiddleheads can be eaten row or cooked and are considered a delicacy in Japan (kogomi).

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Ostrich fern, German fern, Shuttlecock fern

Synonyms:

Matteuccia pensylvanica, Matteuccia pennsylvanica, Onoclea struthiopteris, Pteretis nodulosa

Etymology:

Matteuccia: in honor of Carlo Matteucci (1811-1863), a naturalist from the University of Florence, Italy
Struthiopteris: from the Latin struthio (ostrich) and pteris (fern)

Origin:

Northern hemisphere: North America, Europe and Asia

Habitat:

Found naturally on river banks and resists inundations.

Hardiness:

USDA zone 2-9, -40 °C

Care:

Soil:

Fresh and moist, even boggy

Exposure:

Shade, partial shade

Water:

Keep the soil moist

Propagation:

Spores, Rhizomes

Sowing instructions:

  • fill a pot with light soil and sterilize in the microwave oven
  • sow the spores at the surface, very well spread out so that the plants don’t suffocate each other when germinating
  • humidify and place the pot in a closed plastic bag, leave on the windowsill
  • a prothallum will be formed which will look like a small leaf. This will produce the first fronds a few months later
  • is a light germinator, do not cover the spores
  • germination: a few weeks
  • NB: this fern is very cheap and easy to propagate by division, so don’t bother with sowing unless you would like to experiment

Image sources

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