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Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmundaceae

Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnammea) is a native fern in the Osmundaceae. I was surprised Friday morning to find it sporing (almost said flowering) in the baygall near Allen Acres. The cinnamon colored spores are the real identifying character as its leaves look like many other fern leaves. The leaves usually called fronds in fern circles are compound and pinnately dissected. Fern leaves start out curled up into fiddleheads also called crozier. Many fiddleheads are edible but some are reported to be poisonous and other carcinogenic. Since I like alliteration, I once coined or better yet framed “fried fern fiddlehead fronds”. Cinnamon fern can be recognized without spores by habitat (baygalls or bogs only) and fronds in circle forming a “nest”. I usually see it with spores in March and April and was surprised by finding it yesterday with spores. Caterpillars of the moth Olethreutes osmundana are reported to eat this fern.