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Osmunda

Osmundaceae
Deciduous, Ferns

Large deciduous ferns for damp (even wet) soils in regions with cold (or at least chilly) winters. Rather coarse looking but handsome nonetheless. They produce large masses of matted roots; root masses of O. regalis provide the osmunda fiber used in potting mixes for orchids. Fronds are twice divided; they turn orange, brown, and yellow as they approach dormancy. Use at woodland edges or in cool, moist or wet areas. Both species described here are native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. O. cinnamomea has separate sterile and fertile fronds; in O. regalis, each frond has a fertile segment near the tip.

Osmunda cinnamomea

Grows to 2–5 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. This fern has two types of fronds. Sterile fronds are erect, up to 5 ft. tall, and divided in typical fern fashion. Fertile ones are shorter and consist of stalks topped by short, tightly clustered, brown spore-bearing bodies.

Osmunda regalis
Osmunda regalis

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Osmunda regalis

Grows to 6 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide; each frond segment is quite large. Fertile segments are smaller, clustered near frond tips; they look something like flower buds. ‘Cristata’ has crested fronds; ‘Purpurascens’ has purplish red new growth and stems that remain purple throughout the season. The species and its varieties love moisture and can grow even in shallow water.

 

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