Cinnamon Fern

Osmunda cinnamomea

James Manhart

Cinnamon Ferns are large, with fronds (leaves) growing up to six feet long and a foot wide. They grow in large clumps in moist woods, marshes, wet ditches, and streambanks.

A Cinnamon Fern has two types of fronds: the big green ones, and smaller ones which start out bright green and then turn a cinnamon color.

Then cinnamon-colored ones have sori on them. Sori make spores, which are like seeds for other plants. Fern spores are how the fern can make new ferns.

Emmet J. Judziewicz, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Emmet J. Judziewicz, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Kenneth J. Sytsma, Wisconsin State Herbarium

In early Spring, new young fronds start to grow. They look like a skinny stem, which uncoils into a leafy frond. These young skinny fronds are called "fiddleheads." Fiddleheads are eaten by White-tailed Deer and other animals.

Once several large fronds have grown, then the smaller ones with sori will grow. Then fern will stop growing new fronds in a couple of months. It will instead grow spores to be spread to new places to grow new ferns.

Cinnamon Ferns also have rhizomes, a type of underground stem that spreads and sends up new plants. This way ferns can have a colony, or large group of ferns in one place.

Some trees that Cinnamon Ferns grow under include: Red Maple, Eastern White Pine, White Oak, Black Oak, Loblolly Pine, and Virginia Pine.

Tim Kessenich, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Cinnamon Fern provides good cover and protection for small animals, such as squirrels, toads, birds, snakes, and insects.

This fern often grows alongside other plants, such as Highbush Blueberry and Greenbrier.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

White-tailed Deer

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Red Maple

Beaver

Eastern Chipmunk

White Oak

American Toad

Eastern White Pine

Least Shrew

Loblolly Pine

Wood Frog

Black Oak

Red-backed Salamander

Virginia Pine

Copperhead

Highbush Blueberry

Common Black Ground Beetle

Greenbrier

Brown-headed Cowbird

Tussock Sedge

Wild Turkey

Spotted Jewelweed

Northern Bobwhite

Wild Strawberry

Black Rat Snake

Eastern Cottontail

Five-lined Skink

North American Millipede

Isopod

Earthworm

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Black Carpenter Ant

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Relationship to Humans:

Cinnamon Fern fiddleheads are edible when boiled, though not many people eat them. These ferns are sometimes planted in shady yards to addy beauty.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Pteridophyta
CLASS
Filicopsida
ORDER
Polypodiales
FAMILY
Osmundaceae
GENUS
Osmunda
SPECIES
Osmunda cinnamomea

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