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OSMUNDA regalis var. spectabilis

Image of Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis

Family

Osmundaceae

Botanical Name

OSMUNDA regalis var. spectabilis

Plant Common Name

Royal Fern

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Regal, of outstanding merits, is but one way to describe the tremendously elegant fronds of the regal fern. Variety spectabilis is a deciduous large fern that grows from an upright, large rhizome that can become trunk-like and it is found in eastern North America. The upright rhizome can branch with age and is covered in hairs and scars wrapped in black fibrous roots, called osmunda fiber.

The arm's length-sized fronds of this fern are feather-like. This species of Osmunda is unique in that each leaf, the frond, is doubly pinnate - meaning a central petiole stem branches a second time. It is on these secondary leaf stems that the many narrowed, long ovaled leaflets (pinnae) with tips line up. A bright green, these sterile fronds lack any spore-producing sporangia bodies on their undersides. In summertime, however, fertile fronds emerge from the center of the plant and resemble golden brown tassels. These small leaflets (pinnae) are cloaked in millions of rusty brown colored spores. Once a killing frost occurs in autumn, the fronds turn brown, eventually collapsing.

Grow regal fern in moist, fertile, acidic soils that are rich in humus (compost). Perfect for woodland floors and glades, dappled sun and shade is ideal but full sun exposures are okay as long as soil moisture is constant if not fully saturated. Use this magnificent fern near streams and ponds for a glorious effect, or incorporated into a mixed border of other woodland (shade) perennials and plants.

Regal fern variety spectabilis subtly differs from the stouter, hairier and large-growing European variety Osmunda regalis var. regalis.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Fern

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Width

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edging, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Water Gardens

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    No