Fiddlehead Photos - Ostrich Fern

soilent_greenMay 12, 2011

I posted this in the Ferns forum but being that forum seems to be a quiet one, I am posting again here. IMHO no woodland garden is complete without some Ostrich ferns.

I took some pics on 05.11.11 of some of the Matteuccia struthiopteris Ostrich Ferns that we have growing on site in zone 4b southwestern Minnesota. If interested, click on the photos to see larger photos with comments.

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I had no idea that Ostrich fern fiddleheads are so smooth! We don't have them here - it is too hot for them.

I love how different fiddleheads can look from one fern to the next. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Thanks for your response. Yes, it seems that each plant and each frond has its own "personality" when shooting up. Once the fronds mature the plants all pretty much look the same and the fronds conform to the same size and shape.

Kind of like people and society, huh? Children are the unique fiddleheads maturing into conforming fronds, parents or adults are the plants growing in lockstep, society is the colony crowding itself as well as spreading inexorably outward. This way of thinking comes from listening to way too much Pink Floyd music in my somewhat rebellious youth. ;-)


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:41AM
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Pretty - they are so different than the Christmas ferns I have, but they do look similar to the "Tall Fern" fiddleheads that are popping up in my garden....

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 9:48PM
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The following is a photo of ferns in the same garden that the above photos were taken. This photo was taken six days later. If interested, click on the photos to see larger ones.

The following is a photo of a colony of Ostrich ferns in our woods, which is actually an old growth grove. They always sprout and unfurl sooner in the woods than in the gardens, and stay nicer longer into late summer than the ferns in the gardens. The fronds average 2-3 feet in height in the woods and 3-4 feet in height in the gardens.

The fact that the ferns in the woods grow sooner in spring than the ferns that grow in the gardens extends the length of time that I get to harvest fiddleheads for consumption. The fiddleheads harvested in the woods are smaller than the ones harvested in the gardens, but there is no noticeable difference in flavor or eating quality.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:26PM
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lila888(Z5 IL)

Tom, they're beautiful. And what great woodland setting you have there.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 2:08AM
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Lily, thanks for the kind words.

Probably my last fern photos, taken May 29. The ferns are now in their prime in the gardens. Again, if interested then click on the photos to see larger ones.

These are the ferns in the same gardens as the previous photos (with the exception of the woods photo). The tallest fronds are 5 feet in height. Note there are two gardens separated by a sidewalk leading to the back porch stairs. Also note the clean border - approximately 20 ferns had to be spaded out of the lawn this year. The work took around 20 minutes using a sharp short-handled square point shovel. This type of shovel slices nicely into the sod and doesn't damage the grass. The colonies are now maintenance free until next fall.

This garden uses ferns to cover up a utility area and distract attention from the ugly utility pole and meter/breaker box. It also acts as a transition from the utility parking area to the more natural look of the lawn and gardens. This area acts as a water catch as the parking area slopes for drainage towards this garden. The tallest fronds are 4 feet in height. Again note the absence of ferns in the lawn - they have been spaded out as well. Spading out the ferns is a once a year chore - none will pop up in the lawn again until next spring.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 2:30PM
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