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Osmunda (oz-MUN-duh)

Common Name:  Cinnamon, interrupted, royal, flowering fern

Light:  - Part sun to full shade

Soil:  Humus-rich, slightly acidic

Moisture:  Constantly moist to wet and swampy

Zones:  3 - 10


Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda Description and Cultural Information

Osmunda cinnamomea, cinnamon fern. 3 - 5'. Cinnamon ferns appear similar to ostrich ferns but with some distinct differences. The crosiers (young, emerging fiddlehead) are white and woolly, and it has a much larger, fertile frond that is cinnamon brown in color, emerging from the center of the clump. It also spreads slowly from a central crown, unlike the rampant ostrich fern that spreads by runners.

Osmunda claytonia, interrupted fern. 3 - 4'. Interrupted ferns are similar to cinnamon ferns when they first emerge, but that is where the similarity stops. Fertile fronds have sterile leaves at the base and tips, interrupted by the black fertile spore capsules. Plants spread slowly around the inner growth which dies out, forming a ring after many years. It required constant moisture and slightly acidic conditions for best growth.

Osmunda regalis, royal fern, flowering fern. 4 - 6'. Royal ferns have very long fronds with lance-shaped leaves resembling the leaves of the ash or locust trees. It spreads slowly, like other Osmundas, but individual plants remain. After many years small stands will be in place around a large central plant.

How to Grow:  Osmunda grow best in constantly damp, rich, acid soil. They can be grown in almost any lighting conditions so long as their moisture and pH requirements are met. If grown in moderate sun the soil should be constantly wet. Crowns spread slowly making beautiful stands of graceful fronds. Propagation is best done by spores as the crowns do not multiply as rapidly as other ferns. Transplant crowns in the spring and early summer, planting so the top of the crown is right at soil level. Some of the best specimens tend to grow in areas with extremely rich soil and occasional flooding.

Landscape uses:  Use these ferns as a backdrop in larger, moist shade gardens. Plant them with hostas, pulmonarias, tiarella, and tricyrtis, or in the bog garden with ligularia, rodgersia, and other large, bold moisture loving perennials. They will reach their best potential when planted in wet conditions near lakes, ponds, and streams.

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