Common Name: Cinnamon Fern, Buckhorn, Osmonde Cannelle (Quebec)
Scientific Name: Osmunda cinnamonea – Genus Osmunda derives from the Saxon god Osmunder the Waterman, who purportedly hid his family from danger in a clump of ferns; cinnamonea is, rather obviously, Latin for cinnamon.
Potpourri: An annual twice-divided (the individual blades, or pinna are subdivided into pinnules) fern that is found in shaded wet areas and along streams in wooded environments.
The cinnamon fern gets its name from the central, cinnamon-colored fertile fronds that emerge from the center of the green sterile fronds. The fertile frond is so named because it contains the sporangia that hold the reproductive spores.
In the spring, the cinnamon fern emerges in a coil, a growth characteristic named circinate vernation. Called a “fiddle head” due to its appearance, it is considered a culinary delicacy when properly prepared. Deer and beaver eat fiddleheads.
The roots and rhizomes of the Cinnamon fern are used to make osmundine, a growing medium for orchids and other epiphytes (plants, like orchids that grow on other plants but are non-parasitic).
For more details on the royal fern family to which the cinnamon fern is assigned, see the separate article Osmundaceae.