The Ostrich Fern is also called the Shuttlecock Fern. It is native to the temperate regions of eastern and northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. It starts its growth by forming a complete vertical crown. It can be found growing along riverbanks and sandbars. Larvae use them for food plants.
This plant closely resembles ostrich plumes and this is how it got the name ostrich fern. It is a very attractive plant and it is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens. They can be purchased at nurseries as well. Many people prefer to look for them in the wild. They really make a lovely addition to any garden or can be used as landscaping borders around ponds. They look like a plant that came from the jungle.
In northeastern North America, the ostrich fern is consumed as it is considered to be a delicacy. The young shoots are eaten raw in salads and they are also eaten as a snack. The ostrich fern also grows in Japan and it is also considered to be a delicacy there too. It is classified as the Matteuccia Struthiopteris.
The ostrich ferns have large, dark green fronds. These ferns can grow 2 to 6 feet tall. They can be seen growing in the wild, but if you are interested in collecting them to be eaten, then you should always seek the advice of a professional as some plant can easily be confused with those that are poisonous. The ostrich ferns spread rapidly by underground runners. Where the climates are cool, they prefer to grow in full sun. In hot climates, they need to be protected from the sun.
These ferns thrive in moist areas with partial shade. They can also be found growing in swamps. The young shoots of this fern are called fiddleheads and they are considered to be a vegetable. They have a very delicate flavor that is quite similar to asparagus. They are often steamed and simmered for about 15 minutes and served with sauce. It is a wild vegetable so they will not grow back once they are picked.
The fiddleheads contain an excellent source of vitamin A, C, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Some people call them shoots while others call them greens. The fiddleheads can be prepared with salt, pepper, lemon juice, butter and garlic to give them a very tasty flavor.