Species: Matteuccia struthiopteris
Common names: ostrich fern, fiddlehead ferns or shuttlecock fern
Swedish name: strutbräken
Matteuccia struthiopteris is said to be the only species in the genus Matteuccia. Depending on how it is classified some include M. orientalis and M. intermedia (both Asian species). The name struthiopteris is derived from the shape of the sterile fronds where struthio meaning ostrich and pterion meaning wing. The ostrich fern is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. The sprouts are edible and picked all over Japan (where it is called kogomi). The immature fronds, called fiddleheads, are also used as a cooked vegetable.
Description: Matteuccia struthiopteris is a perennial, deciduous and robust fern with creeping rhizomes. The bright green fronds (leaves) are sterile instead its sporangia is placed on stolons, brownish fertile fronds. The plant forms colonies of erect rosettes to 1.5m in height with the green fronds surrounding the fertile fronds. The sporangia and stolons are developed in autumn, staying erect over the winter and release the spores in early spring. This feature gives it a decoration value in winter. Matteuccia struthiopteris is otherwise most beautiful in spring when the large, pale green, fronds start to unfurl and filter the sunlight. Later the green fronds droop and disappear which should be taken into account. It is useful for very wet sites.
How to grow: Matteuccia struthiopteris prefers moist and shade to half shade. It needs to be sheltered to remain its beauty over the season. It is a great woodland plant and a nice ground cover under shrubs or trees. Remove dead fronds in early spring. Propagate by sowing spores as soon as ripe or by division in spring. Low maintenance.
Seasonal value – beauty all year
When we are to purchase new plants we often start to look in catalogs, garden books or browse for plants online. Most plants are just represented with a picture of the flowers leaving foliage, buds or other values behind. We need to learn to study all the characteristics and take every season into consideration. I will give you some examples and then I challenge you to look for more plants with seasonal value. Look at different bark/stems, twigs, buds, seed pods, stolons, grass (grains), bloom and foliage.
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