Osmunda cinnamomea L.
Osmundaceae (Royal Fern Family)
USDA Symbol: OSCI
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
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.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Non-flowering, sporulating plant. Sporulates May - Jun.
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
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 ConditionsWater Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
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.
BenefitUse 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.
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagate by fresh, green spores or rhizome division.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
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From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1231 - Guide To the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario (1999) Owen Sound Field Naturalists
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Osmunda cinnamomea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Osmunda cinnamomea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Osmunda cinnamomea
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-07-15
Research By: TWC Staff