Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ostrich Fern

A small genus of Ferns that like moist wooded habitat and as with most Ferns, are not bothered by pests, diseases or deer.

Matteuccia orientalis ( Oriental Ostrich Fern )
A rare native of eastern and southern Asia, that is a rhizomatous spreader that can form a clump up to 3.3 x 2+ feet.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 in partial to full shade on moist soil.

Matteuccia struthiopteris ( Ostrich Fern )
A fast growing, large stately fern native to swamps, bottomlands and moist rich woods in Eurasia and North America ( from King Salmon, Alaska to Talkeetna, Alaska to southwest Northwest Territories to Fort McMurray, Alberta to Gillam, Manitoba to far northern Ontario to Labrador & Newfoundland; south to British Columbia to South Dakota central Illinois to Maryland ). It has declined considerably in southern Ontario; was abundant throughout Essex County before 1900. It was also abundant along the Vermillion River on the Ohio shore during that time. Typically reaching around 4 feet, on ideal sites it may become truly huge with clumps reaching up to 10 x 8 feet, though typically closer to 5 feet on average sites. Older plants often develop hairy trunks up to a foot in height.
It is a rhizomatous spreader, and while tame on dry sites, on moist shady sites, it may become invasive with new plants sprouting as much as 3 feet from the parent plant due to rhizome roots. In one case 6 plants are reported to have resulted in 700 divisions in just 15 years. This plant has its place, few plants are better for creating a serene north woods effect than the Ostrich Fern planted next to water or in the understory of moist woodlands.
Each individual plant within the clump is strongly tall vase-shaped.
The erect, rich glossy deep green fronds can reach a maximum size of 10 x 1.5 feet.
Hardy from zones 1 to 8, it prefers partial to full shade on very moist to wet, humus-rich, neutral to acidic soil. The Ostrich Fern tolerates and even enjoys wet boggy conditions.
It is not drought tolerant and its foliage will turn brown by late summer if the soil is too dry, for drier sites check into other Ferns such as the Dryopteris and Polystichum. For groundcover it should be planted about 3 feet apart. The Ostrich Fern is NOT eaten by deer.

* photo taken on May 1 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum

* photos taken on May 6 2010 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on May 16 2010 @ Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD

* photos taken on August 2 2010 in Bayfield, Ontario

* photos taken on April 15 2012 in Bethesda, MD

* photos taken on May 3 2012 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on June 22 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum

* photos taken on June 30 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on Aug 4 2013 in Bayfield, Ontario

* photos taken on May 7 2014 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photo taken on June 1 2014 @ Maryland Horticulturalist Society garden tour, Ellicott City

* photos taken on May 9 2015 in Elkridge, MD

* photo taken on June 20 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Oct 19 2015 in Howard Co., MD

* photo taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on May 21 2017 in Ellicott City, MD

* photos taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

* photo taken on Oct 18 2017 in Columbia, MD

Extra large leaves lend to a prehistoric appearance when used in the landscape.

* photos of unknown internet source

* photo taken on May 5 2015 in Columbia, MD


  1. Beautiful Ostrich ferns! I love how you used them in the gardens.

    My ferns have done really well this year.

    Ostrich Ferns Gone Wild

  2. Thank you! They sure are spectacular in the right setting.