Full-Blown Ostrich Fern.   Leave a comment

Here in New England you will find many species of fern.  From Pasture  Brake to Maidenhair, ferns line rivers, roads and swamps as well as fill meadows, pastures and wooded areas, all over the north east.   Among the largest is the Ostrich Fern, Pteretis pensylvanica; growing as tall as 6 feet.

Ostrich Fern grows in vase shaped clusters.  The large, outer, deep green, plumey, sterile fronds are shaped like Ostrich feathers.  Growing from the center are the smaller, fertile, brown, stiff, leathery fronds.

Notice the difference in frond shapes, between the Ostrich (above) and Bracken (below). 

 There are several species of Braken Fern, Pteridium aquilinum, which this is surely one of.  Notice the triangular frond shape.  Also, the Brackens are much shorter, ranging from 1 to 3 ft. tall.  Their fiddleheads (in spring, only) are covered in whitish and/or red fuz-hair.  Recent studies suggest that Bracken Fern can cause stomach cancer, after long term consumption.  Most Braken Fern are bitter, anyway; therefore, I just leave them.

A good rule of thumb is IF IT’S BITTER, SPIT IT OUT.  Alkoloids, tannins and other possibly harmful plant constituents are all very bitter.  Besides which, there’s plenty of yummy goodies out there.  No need to bother with bitter!

Thanks for stopping by.

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