Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Osmunda cinnamomea

Cinnamon fern

Osmundaceae (Royal Fern Family)

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern)
Cressler, Alan
The fronds of cinnamon fern occur in groups, rising from a shallow, black rootstock. Fertile fronds appear first as silvery, furry fiddleheads, ultimately becoming stiff, erect, and covered with specialized pinnae, which turn their upper portions into a thick spike of fruit dots turning from green to chocolate brown. Sterile fronds bend outwards forming a vase-shaped circle enclosing the cinnamon fronds. The fern can reach a height of 6 ft.

The contrasting stature of fertile and infertile fronds can make for dramatic accents in a landscape.

Image Gallery:

22 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf: Sterile leaves up to 5 feet long, 1 1/2 pinnate, each segment of the leaf more or less rounded at the tip; leaf stalk up to 1 foot long, covered with dense cinnamon-colored hairs.
Flower: Spore-bearing sori densely crowded on the back of much reduced fertile leaves; sporangia cinnamon-colored.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: This is a non-flowering plant that reproduces by spores.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to MN, s. to FL, TX, Mex, and Central America. Zones 4 to 11.
Native Habitat: Boggy areas; shaded ledges; bluffs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Muddy, acid soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous
Conditions Comments: Can grow in full sun if it is in standing water all the time. Otherwise, must have at least partial shade and at least moist soil.


Use Ornamental: Bog or pond area, Water garden
Use Wildlife: Fuzz which covers the young fiddleheads is a favorite nesting material for birds.
Use Other: Bristly root crown, called osmunda fiber, used as a potting medium for orchids.
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2015-07-15