Blechnum [Struthiopteris] spicant (Deer Fern)


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Plant Description: This plant is a graceful medium sized fern that grows in small compact tufts with creeping short rhizomes. Sterile fronds are evergreen, dark green, and thick, with 35-70 pairs of leaflets, the stalk is glossy purplish brown. The deciduous fertile fronds grow from near the middle of the plant with leaflets much smaller than those on sterile leaves, with some rolled around the clusters of spores. The fiddleheads of this plant are edible and the leaves are great for bouquets. *NEVER CONSUME PLANTS WITHOUT PROPER ID*

  • Height: Up to 3 ft
  • Width: Up to 2 ft
  • Watering needs: Consistent moisture
  • Sun needs: Shade or dappled light
  • Soil needs: Likes rich, acidic soil
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: This Willamette Valley native is common near the coasts and in moist to wet dense forests, along streambanks, and occasionally in bogs from lowlands to mid elevations.

The ecological function of this plant is primarily to create habitat. As a major understory plant in the wild, deer fern is an important winter food for deer and elk. This plant also can help fight soil erosion. 

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