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Matteuccia pensylvanica - (Willd.)Raymond.
Common Name Ostrich Fern
Family Polypodiaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].
Habitats Rich woods, often in alluvial or mucky swamp soils from sea level to elevations of 1500 metres[270]
Range Eastern N. America - C. Alaska to Dakota.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade


Matteuccia pensylvanica Ostrich Fern

Matteuccia pensylvanica Ostrich Fern
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of fern
Matteuccia pensylvanica is a FERN growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. The seeds ripen from Aug to October. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

M. struthiopteris pensylvanica. (Willd.)Morton. Struthiopteris pensylvanica.

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Young fronds - raw or cooked[62, 102, 116, 172]. Used before they fully unroll, they are thick and succulent[183]. Sometimes sold in speciality markets according to some reports[183, 270], whilst another says that they are a famine food that is only used when all else fails[177]. Rootstock - peeled and roasted[106, 172, 177, 183].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Requires a moist but well-drained position and light shade[1, 187]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes full sun, the leaves turning yellow and burning in such a situation[200]. Prefers a pH between 5 and 6.5[200]. Hardy to about -20°c[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. This species is included in O. struthiopteris by most botanists, but it is slightly different[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it establishes rapidly[187]. It has a short rhizome but produces long stolons, by which it spreads rapidly once established[187], and it can be invasive[200]. Fertile fronds are produced after the first flush of vegetative fronds and persist throughout the following winter. The spores are shed in mid-winter[200]. Grown commercially for its decorative fronds[106]. These fronds are also available as a food from speciality markets[183]. Plants can be forced in the winter to provide an early supply of the young shoots[183].
Spores - surface sow as soon as they are ripe in mid-winter and keep the soil moist. It is best to keep the pot in a sealed plastic bag to hold in the moisture. Pot up small clumps of the young plants as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade until large enough to plant out. Division during the dormant season between October and March[1]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Botanical References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Fri Feb 20 2009
this is the best site ever
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Subject : Matteuccia pensylvanica  

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