Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This perennial fern develops either individual leaves or a rosette of arching leaves about 3-5' tall during late spring. The compound leaves are pinnate-pinnatifid and dimorphic; the sterile leaves are much larger than the fertile leaves in the center of the rosette. The sterile leaves are up to 5' long, 12" across, and oblanceolate in outline, consisting of 20-50 pairs of leaflets. The sterile leaves taper abruptly toward their tips, while toward their bases the leaflets become very small (less than 1" long). Individual leaflets are up to 6" long, linear-oblong in outline, and deeply pinnatifid with 15-40 pairs of lobes. These lobes are short-oblong to ovate in shape, while their margins are smooth and folded downward. The sterile leaves are medium to dark green and glabrous on their upper surfaces, while their lower surfaces are light to medium green and glabrous. The venation on the undersides of lobes is simple-pinnate; the lateral veins are not forked. The rachises (central stalks) of sterile leaves are light green and glabrous (sometimes becoming finely short-pubescent below); the upper surfaces of these rachises are furrowed, angular, and somewhat flattened, while their lower surfaces are convex. The petioles of the sterile leaves are relatively short (2-12" in length), light green to brown, and relatively stout; they are usually glabrous or finely short-pubescent, although young petioles have chaffy scales that are pale orange-brown. The fertile leaves are up to 1½' long, 4" across, pinnate-pinnatifid, and oblanceolate or elliptic in outline. Immature fertile leaves are greenish, while mature fertile leaves become dark brown. The fertile leaves have 10-30 pairs of leaflets that are ascending and contracted. The lobes of these leaflets are bead-like in shape from the presence of sporangia (spore-bearing structures); there are up to 30 pairs of lobes per leaflet. The petioles of fertile leaves are 2-8" long, greenish to dark brown, and rather stout at their bases. The fertile leaves are produced during mid- to late summer; immature or weak plants often fail to produce them. The spores aren't released from the sporangia of fertile leaves until the early spring, when they are distributed by the wind. The sterile leaves are deciduous and die down during the winter. The root system consists of a stout vertical rootstock with a dense mass of fibrous roots; long rhizomes occasionally develop from the rootstock, forming cloned offspring of the mother plant. Cultivation
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Ostrich Fern occurs in widely scattered locations in northern and western Illinois, where it is rare (see Distribution Map); elsewhere in the state, this fern is absent from natural areas. Outside of Illinois, Ostrich Fern is circumboreal in its distribution, occurring in parts of North America, Eurasia, and East Asia. The North American variety is identified as var. pensylvanica. Habitats include moist rich woodlands, low areas along woodland borders, swamps, and soggy thickets. Ostrich Fern is more common in habitats that are somewhat sandy. This fern is often cultivated in semi-shaded gardens and along the foundations of houses and other buildings. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Varieties 2 (1 in the flora): North America, Eurasia.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Osmunda struthiopteris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1066. 1753
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Ostrich Fern occurs in widely scattered locations in northern and western Illinois, where it is rare (see Distribution Map); elsewhere in the state, this fern is absent from natural areas. Outside of Illinois, Ostrich Fern is circumboreal in its distribution, occurring in parts of North America, Eurasia, and East Asia. The North American variety is identified as var. pensylvanica. Habitats include moist rich woodlands, low areas along woodland borders, swamps, and soggy thickets. Ostrich Fern is more common in habitats that are somewhat sandy. This fern is often cultivated in semi-shaded gardens and along the foundations of houses and other buildings. Faunal Associations
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Blasticotoma filiceti feeds within rhachis of Matteuccia struthiopteris

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Matteuccia struthiopteris

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Matteuccia struthiopteris

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Matteuccia struthiopteris (common names ostrich fern or shuttlecock fern) is a crown-forming, colony-forming fern, occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in eastern and northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. The species epithet struthiopteris comes from Ancient Greek words, struthio meaning ostrich and pterion meaning wing.

Ostrich Fern Foliage

It grows from a completely vertical crown, favoring riverbanks and sandbars, but sends out lateral stolons to form new crowns. It thus can form dense colonies resistant to destruction by floodwaters.

The fronds are dimorphic, with the deciduous green sterile fronds being almost vertical, 100–170 cm (39–67 in) tall and 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in) broad, long-tapering to the base but short-tapering to the tip, so that they resemble ostrich plumes, hence the name. The fertile fronds are shorter, 40–60 cm (16–24 in) long, brown when ripe, with highly modified and constricted leaf tissue curled over the sporangia; they develop in autumn, persist erect over the winter and release the spores in early spring.

Matteuccia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Sthenopis auratus.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

The ostrich fern is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3] While choosing a place of planting it should be taken into account that these ferns are very expansive and its leaves often lose their beauty throughout the summer, especially if not protected from wind and hail. The tightly wound immature fronds, called fiddleheads, are also used as a cooked vegetable,[4] and are considered a delicacy mainly in rural areas of northeastern North America. It is not considered advisable to eat uncooked fiddleheads because illness has been traced to that practise.[4]

The sprouts are also picked all over Japan, ("kogomi" in Japanese)[5] where they are a delicacy.

Classification[edit]

Matteuccia struthiopteris is the only species in the genus Matteuccia. Some sources include two Asian species, M. orientalis and M. intermedia, but molecular data shows that M. struthiopteris is more closely related to Onocleopsis and Onoclea (sensitive fern) than it is to M. orientalis and M. intermedia, and so the latter should be moved to a genus Pentarhizidium which contains those two species. [6] Formerly classified as a member of the Dryopteridaceae, Matteuccia has been reassigned to the new much smaller family Onocleaceae.

Spore-bearing fertile fronds in early spring

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, David M. (1993). Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee. "Flora of North America". Flora of North America North of Mexico 2 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press). 
  2. ^ Elias, Thomas; Dykeman, Peter (1982). Edible Wild Plants. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-4027-6715-9. 
  3. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Matteuccia struthiopteris". Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b http://umaine.edu/publications/4198e/
  5. ^ LaPointe, Rick (21 April 2002). "Let us go fiddlehead foragin', but carefully". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Gastony, GJ; Ungerer, MC (1997). "Molecular systematics and a revised taxonomy of the onocleoid ferns (Dryopteridaceae: Onocleeae)". American Journal of Botany 84 (6): 840–849. doi:10.2307/2445820. 

Sources[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Kartesz (1994) and Gleason and Cronquist (1991) include Matteuccia pensylvanica in M. struthiopteris; Flora North America (1993) includes these two species M. pensylvanica and M. struthiopteris in one broader species, M. struthiopteris. Within M. struthiopteris, these plants may be distinguished as var. pensylvanica if desired.

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