Matteuccia struthiopteris

Common Name: Ostrich Fern

One of the largest and most popular ferns in cultivation today. The dark green, pinnate fronds are shaped like ostrich plumes, being much wider at the top and tapering down to a bare stipe.

The first set of leaves is sterile and has a gracefully arching form. These leaves can reach heights of 6 feet in ideal environments. This set of leaves dies back by early to midsummer and is replaced by a set of fertile, dark green leaves which are about half the height of the sterile ones. These leaves turn a shiny bronze-gold in fall, becoming brown in winter.

Ostrich ferns need plenty of space to grow since they are rapid spreaders. They spread by dense underground runners which extend out in all directions, quickly forming colonies.