Ostrich Fern Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo', commonly known as the ostrich fern, has a distinctive and lush appearance that makes it a standout in shady garden spaces. The fronds of this plant are feather-like and exhibit a vibrant green color that brings a fresh, verdant look throughout its growing season. These fronds are arranged in a symmetrical, vase-like clump, emanating from a single, central point at the base of the plant, creating a graceful, fountain-like effect. The ostrich fern has fertile fronds that stand erect and are darker in color, often a brownish-green, contrasting with the sterile fronds, which are the larger, arching ones that resemble the tail feathers of its namesake bird. The texture is somewhat coarse, with each frond made up of numerous, small leaflets, contributing to the feathery, light, and airy appearance that is both elegant and robust. Due to its lush, green color and unique structure, the ostrich fern adds a sense of depth and prehistoric charm to garden landscapes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Ostrich Fern, Shuttlecock Fern, Fiddlehead Fern

    • Common names

      Onoclea struthiopteris, Pteretis nodulosa, Struthiopteris germanica, Struthiopteris pensylvanica.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Ostrich fern is the most common common name of Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo'. It is not generally considered toxic to humans. However, parts of the plant, specifically the fiddleheads, should only be eaten when properly cooked as raw or undercooked fiddleheads can carry a risk of foodborne illness. In some cases, consuming undercooked fiddleheads has been associated with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

    • To pets

      Ostrich fern is the most common common name of Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo'. There is limited information on the toxicity of ostrich ferns to pets. However, typically it is not listed as a toxic plant to domestic animals. It is always best to prevent pets from ingesting plants not intended for consumption to avoid possible gastrointestinal upset or other unpredictable reactions. If a pet ingests part of an ostrich fern and shows adverse symptoms, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Height

      4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo', commonly known as the Ostrich Fern, has lush, green foliage that adds a dramatic and prehistoric appearance to gardens.
    • Shade Tolerance: This fern thrives in partial to full shade, making it ideal for woodland gardens and shady areas where other plants might struggle.
    • Erosion Control: The Ostrich Fern's dense roots help to prevent soil erosion, particularly on slopes or in areas with loose soil.
    • Habitat Creation: It can provide excellent habitat for wildlife, offering shelter and suitable conditions for a variety of insects and small animals.
    • Low Maintenance: Once established, this fern requires minimal care, with no need for regular pruning or grooming.
    • Drought Resistance: Though it prefers moist conditions, it can tolerate periods of drought, making it relatively resilient once mature.
    • Deer Resistance: The Ostrich Fern is generally resistant to browsing by deer, which can be a significant advantage in areas where deer predation is a problem.
    • Winter Interest: In some climates, the dead fronds of the fern will persist through winter, providing visual interest even in the off-season.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • As a food source: Ostrich fern fiddleheads, the young tightly curled new fronds of Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo', are edible and considered a delicacy in some cuisines when properly prepared and cooked.
    • In floristry: The distinctive fronds of the ostrich fern can be used in floral arrangements, giving a unique, feathery green accent to bouquets and displays.
    • For shade gardening: Ostrich ferns are excellent for creating lush underplantings in shady garden areas where few other plants thrive.
    • Soil stabilization: With their vigorous root systems, ostrich ferns are useful for controlling erosion and stabilizing soil on slopes and banks.
    • As a natural mulch: When the fronds die back, they can be left on the ground to decompose, providing a natural mulch that enriches the soil and suppresses weeds.
    • Wildlife habitat: The dense foliage of ostrich ferns provides cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals.
    • Garden design: Due to its height and dramatic foliage, the ostrich fern can serve as a focal point or backdrop in shade garden designs.
    • Privacy screen: When planted in groups, ostrich ferns can create a natural, feather-textured screen offering privacy in garden settings.
    • Seasonal interest: In autumn, the fronds of ostrich ferns turn a golden color, adding seasonal interest to the garden landscape.
    • Educational purposes: The distinct life cycle and reproductive method of ostrich ferns, using spores rather than seeds, make them an interesting subject for botanical study and education.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Ostrich Fern is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Ostrich Fern is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: The Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo', commonly known as the ostrich fern, features large fronds that create a dense canopy, which is symbolic of shelter and safety.
    • Privacy: Its ability to form thick colonies can represent a natural privacy screen, hence embodying the concept of seclusion and personal space.
    • Elegance: The graceful, arching fronds of the ostrich fern are reminiscent of the ostrich feathers, thereby symbolizing elegance and beauty.
    • Growth and Renewal: As a perennial plant that returns every spring, the ostrich fern symbolizes new beginnings and the rejuvenation of life.

Every 2-3 days
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Ostrich Fern should be thoroughly watered about once a week, ensuring the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. During the growing season, especially if the weather is dry, increase watering to twice per week. Each watering session should provide enough water to soak the top few inches of soil, which could be around one to two gallons depending on the size and the weather conditions. During winter, reduce watering as the plant's growth slows down but do not allow the soil to completely dry out.

  • sunLight

    Ostrich Fern thrives best in partial to full shade conditions. It should be placed in a spot where it can receive filtered sunlight or morning sun with protection from intense afternoon rays. Avoid placing it in direct, harsh sunlight as it can scorch the fronds and harm the plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Ostrich Fern prefers temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. It can withstand minimum temperatures down to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit but should be protected from extreme cold snaps. During the summer months, ensuring it is in a cooler, shaded spot will help protect it from heat stress.

  • scissorsPruning

    Ostrich Fern benefits from pruning to remove dead or damaged fronds and to maintain its tidy appearance. Pruning is best done in the early spring before new fronds unfurl, cutting back the old fronds to the ground. This encourages healthy new growth and prevents diseases.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' thrives in moist, rich, well-draining soil with a high organic content; blend garden soil with compost and peat moss to enhance fertility. The ideal soil pH for Ostrich Fern is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' typically does not require frequent repotting and can be done every 3-5 years or when it significantly outgrows its container.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' prefers high humidity levels, ideally above 60%, similar to the conditions in its native woodland habitats.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' in bright, indirect light with high humidity.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' in shade, ensure soil stays consistently moist.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of the Ostrich Fern 'Jumbo' begins with the germination of spores, typically occurring in moist, shaded environments. Once the spores germinate, they form a heart-shaped gametophyte that houses both male and female reproductive organs. Fertilization occurs when water allows sperm to swim to the eggs, resulting in the formation of a new, diploid sporophyte. The young fern sporophyte emerges and slowly develops into a large, pinnate frond, characteristic of mature Ostrich Ferns. As the plant matures, it unfurls its distinctive "fiddleheads," which then expand into the large, feather-like fronds that can reach up to 6 feet in height. The life cycle is completed as the mature fern produces spores on the underside of the fronds, and these spores are then released to begin the cycle anew.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The most popular method of propagating Ostrich Fern, or Matteuccia struthiopteris 'Jumbo', is through division. This should be done in early spring just as the plant starts to grow. Division involves carefully digging up the entire plant and gently separating the crown into smaller sections, ensuring each section has a piece of the rhizome and some fronds. These divisions can then be replanted immediately in moist, fertile soil, at the same depth they were originally growing. This method allows for a quick increase in the number of plants and will typically result in mature ferns faster than starting from spores. It also mimics the Ostrich Fern's natural propagation strategy, where sections of the rhizome break off naturally to form new plants.