Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, Cinnamon Fern

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Whether by themselves on the woodland floor or coming through shade-tolerant ornamentals, Cinnamon Fern fronds are beautiful when they unfurl in spring and then turn vibrant shades of gold and orange in fall. Fossil records date back 75-180 million years. This versatile, easy to grow fern is still found frequently to commonly throughout much of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Print Version: Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, Cinnamon Fern
Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (Cinnamon Fern) FernSpread: 2–3 feet Height: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Non-flowering Characteristics Deciduous perennial in vase-shaped clump with massive rootstocks of densely matted, wiry roots Wooly hairs cover emerging fiddleheads Erect, fertile fronds appear first, maturing from green to red-brown; they release spores early summer, then promptly wither to the ground Yellow-green sterile fronds arch outward and have distinguishing cinnamon hair tuft at base Vibrant fall foliage from golden to burnt orange Attributes Tolerates dense shade and rabbits; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage Osmunda root fiber used for potting orchids Ethnobotanic uses; eating fiddleheads may be unsafe Provides food for a few insects, nesting material (wooly fiddlehead covering) for birds and protective cover when large colonies formGrowing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Humus-rich, acidic Light Requirements: Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Moist, WetUse as a dramatic accent plant, in rain or woodland gardens, or along fresh water’s edge An excellent fern for the beginning gardenerHardiness: USDA Zones 3–9 Excellent Replacement for Hedera helix - English Ivy Liriope spicata - Creeping Lily-turf Vinca minor - Periwinkle
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets