Connecticut Plants
Ostrich Fern
Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro
  • Synonyms: Pteretis pensylvanica
  • Family: sensitive fern (Onocleaceae)
  • Habitat: moist thickets, especially along streams and rivers
  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Location of spores: separate fertile frond is dense and rigid; green maturing to dark brown
  • Petiole (leaf stalk): rigid; dark brown and deeply grooved at the base, green and ungrooved above
  • Growth pattern: symmetric clump
  • Persistence: deciduous
  • Origin: native
Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro

Ostrich fern grows in symmetric, vase-shaped clumps.

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro

A sterile frond. Note that the frond tapers abruptly towards the top, and very gradually towards the base.

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro

Ostrich fern likes growing in the flood plain of rivers. Along this stretch of the Connecticut River, ostrich fern forms a thicket five feet high.