Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Common Names: Cinnamon fern
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Ferns

A deciduous herbaceous plant which produces separate fertile and sterile fronds. The sterile fronds are spreading, 30 to 150 cm tall and 15 to 20 cm broad, pinnate, with pinnae 5 to 10 cm long and 2 to 2.5 cm broad, deeply lobed (so the fronds are nearly, but not quite, bipinnate). The fertile spore-bearing fronds are erect and shorter, 20 to 45 cm tall; they become cinnamon-colored, which gives the species its name. The fertile leaves appear first; their green color slowly becomes brown as the season progresses and the spores are dropped. The spore-bearing stems persist after the sterile fronds are killed by frost, until the next season. The spores must develop within a few weeks or fail. Forms huge clonal colonies in swampy areas. These ferns form massive rootstocks with densely matted, wiry roots.

Found in marshes and swamps.

Primary Flower Color: None
Secondary Flower Color: None
Edible Notes: The young fiddlehead shoots may be edible if consumed in small amounts, however they may be slightly toxic and are not recommended. Look for Ostrich Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) species fiddleheads which can be found in gourmet and specialty food stores in springtime as a close approximation. Sources: Balducci's, Whole Foods Markets.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.