out door ferns


Ive noticed 2 “branches have come up in the centre of my fern. They are very dark in colour and are not opening like the other fronds. You can see in the attached picture that the smaller of the two is just starting to open. The fern is located on the northe side of a south fence under 3 large Locust trees that are about 15 feet away next to a small dogwood bush . There is creeping jenny to the other side.I have no idea what is causing this or even if it is a good thing or a bad thing, (I suspect its not good).The plant is around 5 or 6 years old. Can you please tell me what is happening to my fern, and what if anything I shoulc do. Thank you for any guidance you considerations


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master gardeners concerning your fern.

Let me put your mind at ease, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your fern. The photo is a beautiful image of the sterile and fertile fronds of ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris. 

The leaves of ferns are called fronds. Fronds are composed of a leaf blade and petiole (leaf stalk). The leaf size, shape and complexity of dissection varies from species to species. Sterile fronds lack spores, are green, and do most of the photosynthesizing. The fertile part of a fern can be very similar to, or totally unlike, the sterile part, depending on the genus or species. When the difference between the sterile and fertile fronds are noticeable, as in the case of your ostrich fern, the plant is called dimorphic. These fertile fronds emerge much later than the green sterile fronds and they will persist throughout the winter, providing your garden with visual interest. They will release their spores in the spring before the new fronds emerge.

Here’s to your continued enjoyment of your ferns.