-- FIDDLEHEAD FERN --

Hi!
Am in the Chicagoland area. I ran across a beautiful fern in the Pacific Northwest which I believe is called Fiddle Head Fern. I am looking for this fern here in the midwest and can't find it. I tried to buy this fern in Seattle but was told it was an indigenous wild fern and that no one sells it. Nor could I transplant one.. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
jean
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jeano wrote:

Many ferns when emerging from the ground in the spring resemble the head of a violin hence the name fiddlehead.
Is this it? http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/bracken_fern.htm
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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In the Northwest, the Ostrich fern is also called Fiddlehead fern or edible fiddlehead: http://www.paghat.com/ostritchfern.html It is a very common nursery offering, & transplant easily too, so the nursery who told you it was unavailable was full of hooey. I'm sure you can find it from multiple vendors if you look for it by its scientific name Matteuccia struthiopteris or under the common name ostrich fern; many other ferns which have noticeable croziers are also called fiddleheads regionally, but most of the time people mean the ostrich fern. It is not just native of the Northwest but is circumpolar in distribution, & is even found in Illinois, though especially common in the Northwest & in New England, but also throughout Asia & its the fern that is such a common dietary item in Japan.
Bracken is sometimes called fiddlehead, another fern found everywhere. LIke the ostrich fern, its fiddleheads are also eaten, though if not overcooked they're potentially carcinogenic. And while I find them attractive enough they're really not so ornamentally interesting that I can quite imagine you going out of yoru way for one. They don't transplant well but start easily from spores & can be invasive once established. Here's my page on bracken: http://www.paghat.com/bracken.html
Since people are apt to say "that's a fiddlehead" while pointing at any newly emerged fern in its crozier state, you might be looking for a different fern altogether, though if the person who named it for you knew ferns, then probably the ostrich was intended. But I find even the ostritch fern a bit untidy & can't imagine going much out of my way for it. But the northwest Sword Fern is one of the finest garden ferns that exist. The first photo here shows it in the fiddlehead stage: http://www.paghat.com/swordfern.html several times larger than the ostrich fern fiddleheads, but not edible.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Like Paghat said, the ostrich fern is sold as fiddlehead. I live in zone 6, SW Ohio and have several. I got them about five years ago and planted them in a rather dry shady area assuming that a fern would like a woodland setting, not considering that "woodland" doesn't necessarily mean "good." A couple died and the remaining thee or four merely hung-on. I transplanted them to a location with better soil, more moisture, and more sun. They started to multiply and spread. This year they are HUGE and several new ones have appeared. So they are definitely available, will live outside the Pacific NW, and can easily be transplanted. I moved mine in the late spring. I would recommend a site with well amended soil and even moisture. Mine seem to do well with morning sun on the east side of the property. http://museum.gov.ns.ca/poison/ostrich.htm
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