Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica
Amer. Fern J. 40: 247. 1950
Illustrator: John Myers
Phenology: Sporophylls produced in mid to late summer, persisting through winter.
Habitat: Rich woods, often in alluvial or mucky swamp soils
Elevation: 0–1500 m
Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon, Alaska, Conn., Del., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.Dak., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
The name Pteretis nodulosa (Michaux) Nieuwland has been misapplied to this species.
Matteuccia struthiopteris is most common in northeastern North America, primarily north of the limit of Wisconsin glaciation. The sporangia dehisce in the spring before the new sterile leaves have expanded, thus releasing the spores into an unimpeded airstream (R. W. Hill and W. H. Wagner Jr. 1974). The green spores germinate in two to five days (R. M. Lloyd and E. J. Klekowski Jr. 1970).
Matteuccia struthiopteris var. struthiopteris, which differs in its bicolored petiole scales and more truncate pinna lobes, occurs in temperate Eurasia. As in Onoclea sensibilis, leaf forms intermediate between sterile leaves and sporophylls are sometimes found (M. L. Fernald 1935).
Matteuccia struthiopteris has been used as a landscaping plant in the United States and Canada, where it is frequently planted as a border along house foundations. It is also the source of edible fiddleheads, the canning of which is a local industry in New England and adjacent Canada. The fiddlehead of M. struthiopteris is the state vegetable of Vermont.