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Matteuccia pensylvanica - (Willd.)Raymond.                
                 
Common Name Ostrich Fern
Family Polypodiaceae
Synonyms M. struthiopteris pensylvanica. (Willd.)Morton. Struthiopteris pensylvanica.
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].
Habitats Rich woods, often in alluvial or mucky swamp soils from sea level to elevations of 1500 metres[270]
Range Eastern N. America - C. Alaska to Dakota.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of fern
Matteuccia pensylvanica is a FERN growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen from Aug to October.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Matteuccia pensylvanica Ostrich Fern


Matteuccia pensylvanica Ostrich Fern
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Young fronds - raw or cooked[62, 102, 116, 172]. Used before they fully unroll, they are thick and succulent[183]. Sometimes sold in speciality markets according to some reports[183, 270], whilst another says that they are a famine food that is only used when all else fails[177]. Rootstock - peeled and roasted[106, 172, 177, 183].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a moist but well-drained position and light shade[1, 187]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes full sun, the leaves turning yellow and burning in such a situation[200]. Prefers a pH between 5 and 6.5[200]. Hardy to about -20°c[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. This species is included in O. struthiopteris by most botanists, but it is slightly different[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it establishes rapidly[187]. It has a short rhizome but produces long stolons, by which it spreads rapidly once established[187], and it can be invasive[200]. Fertile fronds are produced after the first flush of vegetative fronds and persist throughout the following winter. The spores are shed in mid-winter[200]. Grown commercially for its decorative fronds[106]. These fronds are also available as a food from speciality markets[183]. Plants can be forced in the winter to provide an early supply of the young shoots[183].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Spores - surface sow as soon as they are ripe in mid-winter and keep the soil moist. It is best to keep the pot in a sealed plastic bag to hold in the moisture. Pot up small clumps of the young plants as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade until large enough to plant out. Division during the dormant season between October and March[1]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(Willd.)Raymond.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200270
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[102]Kavasch. B. Native Harvests.
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
[106]Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants.
Interesting reading but short on detail.
[116]Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2.
A small booklet packed with information.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[270] Flora of N. America
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Fri Feb 20 2009
this is the best site ever
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Subject : Matteuccia pensylvanica  
             

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