Ostrich fern is a clump-forming, upright fern which can reach heights of 3′ in cultivation, but may get taller than this in moist, cool climates in the wild.
The fern has finely dissected, medium green, fronds which, as the common name suggests, look like long ostrich feathers. The fronds emerge from one main clump in springtime, as the familiar and edible “fiddleheads”. They slowly unfurl to their maximum length and usually depreciate as the summer progresses, beginning to look rather tattered by early fall. They lose their leaflets in late fall as the plant goes dormant for the winter. Ferns do not produce flowers.