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.
In the Northwest, the Ostrich fern is also called Fiddlehead fern or
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:
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:
several times larger than the ostrich fern fiddleheads, but not edible.
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
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.
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