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Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich fern)
Cressler, Alan

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro

Ostrich Fern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)

Synonym(s): Matteuccia pensylvanica, Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica, Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pubescens, Onoclea struthiopteris, Onoclea struthiopteris var. pensylvanica, Pteretis nodulosa, Pteretis pensylvanica


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

The sterile fronds of ostrich fern are 2-10 ft. tall, once-pinnate, tapered at both base and apex, brown-stemmed, and slightly scaly. Fertile fronds are shorter, with edges of pinnae turned in to form a beaded plume persistent through winter. The rootstock is creeping, producing urn-like clusters of fronds.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.


USA: AK , CT , DC , IA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SD , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Nf. to s. AK, s. to n. VA, MO, SD & s. B.C.
Native Habitat: Swamps; bottomland woods & thickets

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Cool, wet, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Ostrich fern can become aggressive and should not be used in small spaces.


Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Matteuccia struthiopteris in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Matteuccia struthiopteris in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Matteuccia struthiopteris


Record Modified: 2023-02-17
Research By: TWC Staff

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