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Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

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Hardy fern grow sheet
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Osmunda claytoniana

interrupted fern

Broad green fronds are “interrupted” in the middle by spore-bearing pinnae (leaflets) in early summer, hence the common name. Forming a lovely spreading vase habit, this low-maintenance native fern makes a distinctive addition to the shade border or woodland garden.

Osmunda claytoniana LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
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2-4 Feet


2-3 Feet


12-18 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 2-8

interrupted fern Interesting Notes

Expanding the normal native woodland fern selection? Osmunda claytonia is a powerful addition with sturdy, deeply-pinnatid fronds forming a vase shape. Interrupted fern grows 2-3’ tall but can grow up to 5’ tall with consistent moisture. Easy to grow, this fern earns its moniker by the distinct interruptions present in the center of many fronds caused by the presence and eventual wilting away of fertile pinnae.

Found from Labrador to Alabama, spanning as far west as Missouri, interrupted fern prefers moist, rich soil in part sun to heavy shade. Residing in bogs, forests, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, and wetland margins, O. claytonia prefers acidic to average soils. Average garden soil is fine as long as the plant is placed in full to part shade. A deciduous fern, the brown fibrous hairs along the base of the fronds are used as part of orchid potting media.

A rhizomatous fern, O. claytonia works well en masse and is a great addition to any woodland garden. The fibrous root system provides erosion control and works well for streambanks or shaded hillsides. Several Lepidoptera larvae feed on the fronds of this and other Osmunda spp. Due to the toxic nature of its foliage, it is very deer-resistant.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Erosion Control
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Tissue culture