Ostrich Fern vs Cinnamon Fern

Ostrich Fern vs Cinnamon Fern

When it comes to ornamental ferns, the world of horticulture offers a fascinating array of choices. Among these, Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern stand out as distinctive specimens. 

In this comprehensive comparison, we will delve deep into the taxonomy, appearance, native habitat, growing conditions, propagation, maintenance, wildlife interactions, and ecological significance of these two ferns. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the characteristics that set Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern apart and be better equipped to make an informed choice for your garden.

Ostrich Fern vs Cinnamon Fern

Taxonomy and Classification of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

Ostrich Fern, scientifically known as Matteuccia struthiopteris, belongs to the family Onocleaceae. Within this family, it finds its place in the genus Matteuccia and the species struthiopteris. This classification provides a glimpse into its genetic lineage and botanical characteristics.

Cinnamon Fern, on the other hand, is classified under the family Osmundaceae, genus Osmundastrum, and species cinnamomeum. Its taxonomic distinctions shed light on its unique botanical features and evolutionary history.

Appearance and Physical Characteristics

Ostrich Fern is renowned for its long, feathery fronds that gracefully arch, creating a striking visual spectacle. The individual fronds bear a striking resemblance to the plumes of an ostrich, which is how the fern earned its name. These fronds can reach an impressive height, and their bright green coloration adds to their allure.

One of the most distinctive features of Ostrich Fern is its edible fiddleheads, which have a charming ostrich-plume-like appearance. These fiddleheads are a culinary delicacy in some regions and add to the fern’s versatility.

Cinnamon Fern, in contrast, boasts erect fronds that are lance-shaped and deeply divided. What sets it apart is the unique cinnamon-colored fertile fronds that emerge, giving the plant its name. These fertile fronds are covered in woolly hairs, adding a tactile dimension to their charm.

The variation in frond structure and the presence of cinnamon-colored fertile fronds make Cinnamon Fern visually distinct from its counterparts.

Native Habitat of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

Ostrich Fern is native to the northern hemisphere, with a natural range that spans various regions. It thrives in moist environments, often found in shaded woodlands and along stream banks. Its preference for moist habitats is a key aspect of its native habitat.

Cinnamon Fern has its roots firmly planted in eastern North America. It is well adapted to wetland ecosystems, often found in swamps, wetlands, and along stream margins. The fern’s ability to thrive in these waterlogged environments is a testament to its resilience.

Growing Conditions of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

To cultivate Ostrich Fern successfully, it’s essential to provide the right growing conditions. This fern thrives in partial to full shade, making it an excellent choice for shaded garden areas. When it comes to soil preferences, Ostrich Fern favors moist, fertile, and well-drained soil. Understanding the appropriate hardiness zones for its growth is crucial for a thriving fern garden.

Cinnamon Fern exhibits adaptability to a broader range of sunlight conditions, tolerating full shade to partial sun. However, it still thrives in shaded environments. The key to its growth lies in the soil. Cinnamon Fern prefers wet, acidic, and organic-rich soil, making it ideal for wetland gardens. Knowledge of the suitable hardiness zones is vital for its successful cultivation.

Propagation and Planting of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

Propagating Ostrich Fern involves various methods, including division of established clumps and spore propagation. The timing for planting these ferns should coincide with the onset of the growing season, ensuring their best chance at establishment. Proper spacing is crucial to allow for healthy growth and expansion of the ferns.

Cinnamon Fern can also be propagated through division and spore propagation. Timing is essential for successful planting, with the ideal period coinciding with the growing season. Paying attention to spacing considerations ensures that Cinnamon Ferns have room to thrive.

Growth and Maintenance of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

Maintaining Ostrich Fern involves providing consistent moisture, mulching to retain soil moisture and temperature, periodic pruning, and suitable fertilization. These practices ensure healthy growth and vibrant fronds, enhancing the fern’s visual appeal in your garden.

Caring for Cinnamon Fern includes addressing its moisture needs, applying mulch to preserve soil conditions, occasional pruning to maintain its appearance, and providing appropriate fertilization. These maintenance tasks contribute to the fern’s robust growth and overall health.

Wildlife and Ecological Importance of Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern

Ostrich Fern plays a vital role in ecological contexts. It serves as a habitat and a food source for various wildlife species, contributing to the biodiversity of its native habitats. Additionally, its dense root system aids in soil erosion control, making it valuable for riparian buffer planting along water bodies.

Cinnamon Fern has its own ecological significance. It interacts with wildlife, providing shelter and sustenance. In wetland restoration projects, it plays a crucial role in enhancing the environmental balance of these fragile ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern Invasive Species?

Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern are not typically considered invasive species. They have specific habitat preferences and are less likely to spread aggressively in non-native environments.

Can I Grow Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern Together in My Garden?

Yes, you can grow Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern together in your garden. They can coexist harmoniously, especially if you provide the appropriate growing conditions of shade and moisture that both ferns prefer.

Are Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads Safe to Eat?

Yes, Ostrich Fern fiddleheads are safe to eat when properly prepared. However, it’s essential to follow recommended cooking methods to eliminate any potential toxins. If you’re unsure, consult reliable culinary resources for safe preparation guidelines.

How Can I Protect My Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern From Common Pests and Diseases?

To protect your Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern from common pests and diseases, maintain good garden hygiene, keep the soil well-drained, and avoid overwatering. Regularly inspect your ferns for signs of pests or disease and take appropriate measures, such as using organic pesticides or removing affected fronds, to keep them healthy.


In the world of ornamental ferns, Ostrich Fern and Cinnamon Fern emerge as unique and captivating choices. Each boasts its own set of characteristics, native habitats, and cultivation requirements. 

Whether you are drawn to the elegant fronds of Ostrich Fern or the intriguing cinnamon-colored fertile fronds of Cinnamon Fern, both offer a touch of natural beauty and ecological importance to your garden.

By understanding their differences and similarities, you can make an informed decision and enrich your gardening experience with these remarkable ferns.

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