E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro
ostrich fern
Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jim Riley  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #32724)

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Distribution of Matteuccia struthiopteris
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Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica


A tall stately fern with carefully positioned fronds forming an elegant cone shape. This fern grows across Canada (and around the northern hemisphere) and has been made famous by New Brunswickers who collect the young emerging fiddleheads in early spring for a culinary delicacy ....This fern will eventually spread by underground rhizomes to form lush colonies.

Note Author: Gary Lewis, Phoenix Perennials

Species Information

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Large perennial with leaves of two forms, sterile leaves deciduous, fertile leaves overwintering.
Sterile leaves in vase-like clusters, 30-140 cm long, 12-30 cm wide, light green, oblanceolate, broadest in the upper 1/4, 1-pinnate, pinnae deeply cut in 30-80 segments; fertile leaves stiff, narrowly lanceolate, dark brown, about 60 cm long, 5-10 cm wide, with linear, obtuse pinnae.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet sandy or silty banks of rivers and streams and alluvial forests in the lowland and montane zones; infrequent, but locally abundant throughout BC, absent on the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MA, VA, OH, IN, MO and SD; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Matteuccia struthiopteris

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 15 404 1050
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 15
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
19 268 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 5 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(8), CWH(45), ESSF(1), ICH(7), IDF(2), SBS(53)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Matteuccia pensylvanica (Willd.) Raymond
Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (Willd.) Morton
Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pubescens (Terry) Clute
Onoclea struthiopteris (L.) Hoffm. p.p.
Onoclea struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (Willd.) B. Boivin
Pteretis nodulosa (Michx.) Nieuwl.
Pteretis pensylvanica (Willd.) Fern.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References