Whitish velvety coating on lower stems and fiddleheads. Swamps. Central cinnamon-colored fertile frond.
Similar species: Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) - all fronds grow from a single black knob; grows in areas that are not as wet; fertile frond is black later in the year; lower stems are not white-velvety. Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana) - grows in drier places; lacks a separate fertile frond. Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris) - also grows in wet areas; lacks the small tufts at the base of the leaflets; fronds grow singly. Virginia Chain Fern (Woodwardia virginica) - uncommon; fronds grow singly.
Fronds: Twice divided; Long, classic fern shape; small tufts at the base of the leaflets.
1-2 m (3-5 ft)
Habitat: Wet Areas; Open areas in swamps and wet areas.
Fiddleheads are edible. But limit the quantity that you eat, as all ferns contains some carcinogens.
Close-up of the leaves on a herbarium specimen. Note the crooked stem - Cinnamon Fern can be mistaken for Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris) because of this.
(Royal Botanical Gardens herbarium, Burlington, Ontario)..
Note the small tufts at the base of each leaflet - this is a strong indicator for Cinnamon Fern.