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Ostrich fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris


This is the fiddlehead of a young, vascular plant. Ostrich fern grows in colonies that pop up and unfurl in early spring. The third photo shows an older plant and the fourth photo shows the rhizome.


Grows in moderate shade in poorly drained soil on the banks of the Chemung River.


Ostrich fern’s fiddlehead/crozier is edible and may be prepared by boiling for 20-30 minutes. The groove on the ostrich fern’s rachis (long axis) and papery brown parts that peeled off helped to identify it. Here is an example of the striking dimorphism in this species:

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mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 3 years ago

Thanks, Mark; the article was a great read. I’ve read that eating the wrong or too many ferns causes gastric cancer (especially in Japan), but hadn’t heard of Rafinesque before!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Beautiful things but I understand your caution...

mauna Kunzah
Spotted by
mauna Kunzah

Elmira, New York, United States

Spotted on Apr 29, 2019
Submitted on Oct 5, 2019

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