The fronds of cinnamon fern occur in groups, rising from a shallow, black rootstock. Fertile fronds appear first as silvery, furry fiddleheads, ultimately becoming stiff, erect, and covered with specialized pinnae, which turn their upper portions into a thick spike offruit dots – turning from green to chocolate brown. Sterile fronds bend outwards forming a vase-shaped circle enclosing the cinnamon fronds. The fern can reach a height of 6 ft.
The contrasting stature of fertile and infertile fronds can make for dramatic accents in a landscape.
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf: Sterile leaves up to 5 feet long, 1 1/2 pinnate, each segment of the leaf more or less rounded at the tip; leaf stalk up to 1 foot long, covered with dense cinnamon-colored hairs.
Flower: Spore-bearing sori densely crowded on the back of much reduced fertile leaves; sporangia cinnamon-colored.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: This is a non-flowering plant that reproduces by spores.
USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to MN, s. to FL, TX, Mex, and Central America. Zones 4 to 11.
Native Habitat: Boggy areas; shaded ledges; bluffs
Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Muddy, acid soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous
Conditions Comments: Can grow in full sun if it is in standing water all the time. Otherwise, must have at least partial shade and at least moist soil.
Use Ornamental: Bog or pond area, Water garden
Use Wildlife: Fuzz which covers the young fiddleheads is a favorite nesting material for birds.
Use Other: Bristly root crown, called osmunda fiber, used as a potting medium for orchids.
Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagate by fresh, green spores or rhizome division.