Osmunda regalis – Royal Fern unfurls its copper to purple-tinged croziers which expand into dramatic bipinnate compound fronds supported by strong, wiry stems. The foliage matures blue-green, sometimes with a bronze infusion. A stately, regal addition to the fertile, moisture retaining shade and woodland garden, Osmunda regalis will form a beautiful specimen or elegant backdrop to woodland plants that stay closer to the cool earth. These ferns are just wonderful with Jack-in-the-Pulpits. The Royal Fern will sometimes pick up golden brown autumn color before harsh frosts settle it into a long winter's nap. This species has broad circumboreal distribution. Pot grown division. Scroll down to the Genus Overview for more information about the spectacular, elegant world of ferns.
Zone:(3)4 to 8(9)
What is my hardiness zone?
Characteristics and Attributes for Osmunda regalis
Season of Interest (Foliage)
- Spring / Summer / into Autumn
- Deer Resistant
- Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
- Dappled Shade
- Natural Garden
- Cottage Garden
- Cutting Garden
- Wildlife Garden
Growth Rate in the Garden
Genus Overview: Ferns
Ferns. The easy, elegant and exceptional beauty of ferns cannot be understated. All ferns, beautiful as specimens unto themselves, are extraordinary in their simple ability to provide rich contrast to other companions wherever their requirements befit.
Habituated to so many environments many of the ferny pteridophytes – vascular plants that reproduce by spores, not seeds - are woodland denizens thriving on the cool, damp forest floor like the Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostochoides with some preferring the wetter disposition of bogs, swamps, and stream banks such as Osmunda cinnamomea. Others will colonize gritty soils in shade or sun like the running Hay-scented fern, Dennstaedtia punctilobula and many among the Cheilanthes. Some are tough enough to grasp a foothold in the crack of a rock, these are lithophytic, as with Asplenium trichomanes. And some – most of these tropical in origin are truly epiphytic, clinging to tree bark as they unfurl their fronds from embryonic croziers to reach into the forest light such as the primitive looking Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum or Rabbit-foot Fern, Davallia fejeensis .
And many have historic medicinal uses such as Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum pedtaum – this from medicinalherbinfor.org, “Expectorant, anti-rheumatic, demulcent, pectoral, refrigerant, tonic”... Native Americans throughout North America used maidenhair as a hair wash to make their hair shiny.” And in a more Bacchanalian use: as a flavoring in liquers.
There was probably something fern-like, an ancient ferny forebear(s) if you will, living during the Devonian some 60 to 70 million years ago. Ferns, some we still recognize today are descendents from an ancient order whose reign during the Carboniferous Age is legend, where giant horsetails and monstrous club mosses still populate the misty recesses of our dreams... and whose contemporary plundering by Homo sapiens in the vast burning of fossil fuels is altering our climate at such an alarming rate that more among the many are beginning to query as to the potential for another mass extinction – the closing chapter of another age, a blip in the larger context of perceived time. But I digress....
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