Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo'
Common Name: ostrich fern
Type: Fern
Family: Onocleaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Best in rich soils with constant moisture. Soil must never be allowed to dry out. Spreads by underground rhizomes to form dense colonies in optimum growing conditions. Prefers cool summer climates and is generally intolerant of the hot and humid summers of the deep South. Avoid windy sites.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Matteuccia struthiopteris, commonly called ostrich fern, is a clump-forming, upright to arching, rhizomatous, deciduous fern which typically grows 2-3' tall in cultivation, but may reach 6' tall in moist, cool climates in the wild. The showy parts of this fern are the finely dissected, medium green, vegetative (sterile) fronds which, as the common name suggests, exhibit the feathery appearance of long ostrich plumes. The vegetative fronds emerge at the narrow base of the clumps in spring as the familiar "fiddleheads" from where they unfurl to a maximum length of 4'. These vegetative fronds usually depreciate as the summer proceeds, begin to look rather tattered by early fall and finally lose their leaflets later in the fall as the plant goes dormant for the winter. The sterile fronds form a huge vase-like crown around the much less showy fertile fronds which are erect, spike-like and dark brown. The fertile fronds arise in mid-summer and persist through the winter.

Genus name honors Carlo Matteucci (1800-1863), Italian physicist.

'Jumbo', as the name suggests, is a much larger version of the species. It features a large crown, a large vase-shaped clump of sterile fronds and fertile fronds that typically grow up to 50% larger than the species, often rising to as much as 7' tall. Some experts consider M. struthiopteris 'Jumbo' to be synonymous with M. struthiopteris 'The King'.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Huge fern for shady locations in the landscape. Young fiddleheads are edible. The brown fertile fronds make attractive additions to winter arrangements.