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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jim Riley     (Photo ID #32724)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Matteuccia struthiopteris
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend


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

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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)
404 15 1050
Slope Gradient (%)
0 0 15

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

268 19 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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.