Osmunda claytoniana, Interrupted Fern

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native, more common to western and northern portions of the Mid-Atlantic Region,* grows in moist woods, slopes and swamp edges. The term “interrupted” in its common name refers to the distinctive gap left in the middle of the fern blade when fertile leaflets wither and fall off mid-summer.

Print Version:  Osmunda claytoniana, Interrupted Fern

 Osmunda claytoniana, Interrupted Fern, Fern Height: 2–3 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Non-flowering  Characteristics Deciduous perennial in vase-shaped clumps Silvery-white fiddlehead hairs turn to bronze Lime to medium green compound foliage appears on smooth green stalks Sterile fronds arch outward encircling the taller, erect fertile fronds In spring fertile fronds are interrupted mid-blade by dark green, spore-bearing pinnae (leaflets) that ripen to brown and fall off in summer              Attributes Tolerates shallow, rocky soil, drier soil, dense shade, and rabbits; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage Once eaten, fiddleheads now deemed carcinogenic Rhizomes are source of fiber for potting orchids Provides cover for birds and other animals  Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Rich, acidic to neutral Light Requirements: Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Moist With constant moisture can reach 5 or 6 feet tall Use in woodland gardens and along fresh water’s edge  Excellent Replacement for  Hedera helix - English Ivy  Liriope spicata - Spreading Lily-Turf  Vinca minor - Periwinkle  * It is native to DC. In DE, it is common in the Piedmont and uncommon in the Coastal Plain. In VA, it is common in the mountains, frequent in the Piedmont (including NoVA), and rare in the Coastal Plain. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–8

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets