Matteuccia struthiopteris, Fiddlehead Fern
FIDDLEHEAD FERN IS EDIBLE
Fiddlehead ferns, also known as ostrich ferns, have a delicious secret. For a short time in the spring, as the fronds poke through the earth, tightly curled at the tip, they are edible. These curls are called a crozier after the curved end of a staff that the bishop carries. You may have noticed them for sale in specialty grocers at a very high price. The taste is a little nutty, slightly bitter, and resembles asparagus. Sautéed in butter with a bit of garlic, they are fabulous. They are a great source of antioxidants, with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are also immensely in iron and fiber. Best to be harvested in the spring.
The rest of the year, these ferns are even more fabulous in your shade garden. If planted in front of a wall or tall hedge, they will be stately and impressive. The graceful, feathery ferns make a marvelous backdrop for flowering plants and show them off. Bleeding hearts and host lilies planted in front of the ferns will be extraordinary.