Bought a house this winter and I am not sure what this fern is, or how to stop it from taking over. It is growing in two areas, and in one month it went from a dozen or so small stalks to completely taking over both areas. It is so thick, the smaller flowers that came in earlier are total engulfed in these.

I do like the way these look, but they are way too thick for me and seem to spread very fast. They keep springing up in the lawn, but I pull those as soon as I see them.

I would love to identify this type of fern, and know if I can contain it and trim it back. It would be nice to have some of them, but not at the cost of everything else getting absorbed into them.

Taking over this whole area

All flowers in here are now gone enter image description here enter image description here

  • Nice house as well, it seems!
    – Patrick B.
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


This is the ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris. I won't have it in my garden as it is too aggressive. If you don't like it, you can pull it out or eat it!

The tightly wound immature fronds, called fiddleheads, are also used as a cooked vegetable, and are considered a delicacy mainly in rural areas of northeastern North America.

The best way to contain it would be to put a physical barrier down. Pond liner comes to mind...dug in six to eight inches deep around the bed.

  • 1
    Thanks, I might have to taste one before tearing them out. Would suck to find out I like them only after getting rid of them all :)
    – zk.
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 16:27
  • We had these when I lived in Maine as a kid. Brings back fiddlehead memories.
    – Doresoom
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 18:25
  • I thought fiddleheads were only to be eaten young/immature, and are inedible once they're folded out?
    – bstpierre
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 13:26
  • @bstpierre Quite right, only the new fiddleheads are edible. From the picture these ferns look to have grown out too much to be edible.
    – kevinskio
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 13:51

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