Ostrich Fern - Matteuccia Struthiopteris
Ostrich ferns are a green vegetation that grows from three to six feet with an equal amount of spread. They grow in vase-like clumps, which are called crowns. They are named after the fact that their fronds look like an ostrich’s tail. Shorter fronds, which grow only up to 20 inches long, are essential for the ferns to keep reproducing and growing the taller clumps. They are always standing even when the taller ones go back into dormancy. They are particularly useful if you have a damp, shady spot in which nothing else seems to grow. As most gardeners know, awkward spaces are often an eyesore, and ostrich ferns can be just the solution from turning awkward spots into amazingly rich ones.
When planting ostrich ferns, be sure to surround everything but the crown with the soil. The ferns need to be well-watered for about the first year or so. They are best for shallow, damp and shady areas that have plenty of room for root spread. It’s best not to be open to results as the ferns can be unpredictable during the first year. For example, there may be a time when they appear to stop growing or die back several times. This is just because their priority is to establish a hard and durable root system to prevent damage. In the long run, surrounding them with a little fertilizer and keeping them watered during a drought produces the best results.
One fun fact about ostrich fiddleheads is that they’re edible when cooked. They grow in the spring in only the tallest fronds. It’s best to pick only half of the crown while it’s curled. To prevent food and any pesticide poisoning, the papery brown stuff must be removed; they must be washed and cooked thoroughly. They can be sauteed in bacon drippings, steamed, or boiled.