Osmunda spectabilis, Royal Fern

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native fern, one of North America’s largest, is frequent to common in moist woods through much of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Previously known as Osmunda regalis, its unique fronds are cut into large rounded leaflets. Another common name “flowering fern” refers to its tassel-like fertile clusters.

Print Version: Osmunda spectabilis, Royal FernOsmunda spectabilis, Royal Fern, Fern Height: 2–6 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Non-flowering Characteristics Deciduous perennial in tall, erect clumps Wooly hair covered fiddleheads emerge early spring Pink leaflets unfurl on green to wine stalks and become bright green, well separated & rounded Spores borne in green, tassel-like clusters from April to June mature to brown Foliage changes to yellow or brown in fall Spreads slowly by rhizomes Attributes Tolerates wet soil, sun (with sufficient soil moisture), dense shade, drought, flooding (of brief duration), and rabbits; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage Once eaten, fiddleheads now deemed carcinogenic Rhizomes used as fiber for potting orchids Provides cover for wildlife Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Rich, acidic soils Light Requirements: Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet With constant moisture can reach 6 feet tall Use in rain, water, and woodland gardens, along fresh water’s edge, and to control erosion Hardiness: 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