Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro
- Family: Fern (Polypodiaceae)
- Spores: July-October
- Field Marks: The fertile fronds, which appear in autumn, have no leaf tissue and are
completely unlike the leafy sterile fronds. The sterile fronds are often 6 feet tall and have a
green, 4-angled stalk.
- Habitat: Rich woods, bottomlands.
- Habit: Robust perennial fern from stout, scaly, branched rhizomes.
- Stems: Underground in the form of rhizomes.
- Leaves: Of 2 kinds, the sterile leaf-like, deciduous, forming a circle around the fertile ones,
to 6 feet tall, 1 1/2 pinnate, the segments pointed at the tip, smooth, with 4-angled, smooth,
- Reproductive Structures: Fertile leaves persistent through the winter, stiffly upright, up to
1 1/2 feet tall, dark green to blackish, with twisted, bead-like segments surrounding the
sporangia, the stalks brown and shiny.
- Notes: This fern is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
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