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OSTRICH FERN

SHUTTLECOCK FERN

Matteuccia struthiopteris

(Formerly: Onoclea struthiopteris)
Ostrich & Sensitive Fern [Onocleaceae]

Fronds Green:
month8jan month8feb month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept month8oct month8nov month8dec

Fertile Fronds:
fertile8jan fertile8feb fertile8mar fertile8march fertile8jul fertile8july fertile8aug fertile8sep fertile8sept fertile8oct

Spores Ripe (next year):
spores8apr spores8april spores8may spores8jun spores8june spores8jul spores8july spores8aug spores8sep spores8sept spores8oct

category
category8Ferns
status
statusZneophyte
stem
stem8round



8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
A stolon has spread laterally (towards the photographers feet) to form a new plant (bottom). The leaves are of two sorts: the first to emerge are sterile, 2-pinnate leaves, as shown here.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
The infertile fronds taper at both ends, being widest in the middle.
5th June 2012, Fyfe, Scotland. Photo: © John Brailsford
The crown at first is completely vertical, then becomes shuttlecock-shaped (hence the alternative name). Grows to 1.7m high, and is mainly an ornamental garden plant, but is not native although it does grow wild. It spreads laterally by stolons to form new crowns, or by spores released in early spring.


5th June 2012, Fyfe, Scotland. Photo: © John Brailsford
The fronds are dimorphic: there are two types, sterile and fertile. Those in the photograph above are sterile and do not bear spores.


5th June 2012, Fyfe, Scotland. Photo: © John Brailsford
The fertile fronds, which are bi-pinnate, resemble ostrich plumes, hence the common name. They also superficially resemble those of Lemon-scented Fern (Oreopteris limbospermum) and they don't smell of lemons either.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
Obverse of infertile frond. The main rachis is rounded on the underside. Pinnules not always directly opposite each other.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
Obverse of infertile frond. Closer inspection reveals that the underside of the rachis may have two rows of short hairs each side running the length


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
Obverse of infertile frond. The pinnules are not entirely separate, but are connected near the middle 'stem' similar to web-fingers,


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
The pinnules look like oven mits, with little to no teeth (they may have a slightly wavy edge). The pinnules nearest the rachis and pointing down the leaf are noticeably bent over the rachis whilst those pointing towards the end of the leaf are slightly underneath the rachis, but not bent.


C
8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
Unlike the obverse, the top of the rachis has a groove down the centre making it look like two fused round rachis. Some of the rachis-overlapping pinnules do have a tiny thumb which points towards the rachis, but not all. All the other pinnules are slightly asymmetric with a definite curve away from the rachis.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
A few pinules may have tiny teeth at the truncated end.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
The rachis-overlapping pinnules are more pronouncedly barrel-shaped than the other pinnules. Some with tiny teeth at the end.


8th April 2017, wet woods, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens Canal. Photo: © John Brailsford
Lower stems are clean-shaven and completely smooth, with smaller and smaller pinnate leaves all the way down to the base. Last years' brown stems lie strewn around the base from where several new shoots spring like as from the base of a shuttlecock.


28th Aug 2012, Fyfe, Scotland. Photo: © John Brailsford
In Autumn some upright and shorter, up to 60cm tall, fertile fronds appear (which are not 2-pinnate as the infertile fronds) but only 1-pinnate, a little like those of Royal Fern, but not supported at the summit on normal fronds and nor are they held so high.


28th Aug 2012, Fyfe, Scotland. Photo: © John Brailsford
1-pinnate fertile frond. The sporangia are hidden inside highly modified leaf tissue that curls over. The fertile fronds, at up to 60cm high, are shorter than the infertile fronds. turn a rusty brown over winter but the spores will only be released in early spring.


Not to be confused with other : Shuttlecock Ferns [a popular name for ferns, as more than one species looks like a shuttlecock]

Ostrich Fern is the only plant in the Matteuccia genus. Ostrich Fern used to be classified as a member of the Dryopteridaceae, but this was changed to the Ostrich & Sensitive Fern Family (Onocleae). It is not native to the UK, being an introduction grown in gardens, from which it escapes. It likes to grow in shady places such as damp woods, where the St. Helens plant was discovered.

It is not poisonous. The tips of young shoots, as croziers or fiddleheads, can be eaten raw in salads, or as a wayside snack or cooked as a vegetable.


  Matteuccia struthiopteris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Onocleaceae  

Distribution
 family8Ostrich & Sensitive Fern family8Onocleaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Matteuccia
Matteuccia
(Ostrich Fern)

OSTRICH FERN

SHUTTLECOCK FERN

Matteuccia struthiopteris

(Formerly: Onoclea struthiopteris)
Ostrich & Sensitive Fern [Onocleaceae]