This year's perennial vegetable - Ostrich fern

Edible perennial group (http://åretsätligaperenn.se/), which is an interest group to spread knowledge of edible perennials, appointed last week ostrich fern (Mateuccia struthiopteris) to this year's edible perennial. I was very happy with the appointment as ostrich fern is one of my absolute favorites in the spring. The plant is the only edible fern in our climate that I know of. It harvests the young shoots when they are still curled as in the picture below, they will then look like the head of a violin. In English they are called, therefore, for fiddleheads. The shots are usually 5 to 15 cm long at harvest and it is important not to take all the shots at once, so that the plant can recover. Here in Dalarna usually the short harvest season occurs in the first weeks of May. However, you can extend the harvest season by planting ostrich fern on both sunny and shady habitats, because then the plants are running at different times.

Ostrich fern
To be strubräkens shots look when you harvest them. Bild av Bjoertved, Wikimedia commons.

When shoots begin rolling out themselves should not eat ostrich fern longer. It is important to be absolutely sure of his ground when you harvest ostrich fern, so you do not get any other fern, which often contain carcinogens. Ostrich fern is relatively easy to recognize at first, the perfect cone-shaped leaf rosette (of fully grown plants) and that the spores unlike other ferns sitting in the middle of this bow in something called sporangieblad.

Ostrich fern
Here you can see the clear sporangiebladen sitting in the middle of the cone-shaped leaf rosette. The brown sporangiebladen is left from last year.

Ostrich present in the wild, but is quite rare. Here in Dalarna there are huge stocks in Säterdalen, but as they grow in a nature reserve must not harvest them where. It is relatively easy to grow in the home garden also fern. They grow well in deep shade, but can also grow in the sun as long as there is plenty of moisture in the soil for those. They'd love to have a soil with a high humus content. Over time, the plants form large colonies and it is easy to propagate the plants by division of the root ball.

In Säterdalen in southern Dalarna thrive ostrich fern really good. These specimens will be almost 180 cm high.
In Säterdalen in southern Dalarna thrive ostrich fern really good. These specimens will be almost 180 cm high.

In a forest garden context ostrich fern works well with wild garlic, but I have also tried to grow it along with hostas (Hosta spp.), another clump forming perennial vegetable that thrives in shade. Between the plants I hasselört (Europeum Asarum) and the great perennial vegetables vårsköna (Claytonia sibirica), which also thrives in deep shade and throughout the growing season produces small leaves that taste rödbetsblast.

A polykultur of Ostrich, funkia, European hasselört and vårsköna which all thrive in deep shade.
A polykultur of Ostrich, funkia, European hasselört and vårsköna which all thrive in deep shade.

I usually cook the ostrich fern by boiling or steaming in at least ten minutes. Then I eat it with just melted butter. One can also wok or to make them with inlaid, see for example this recipe. For me it tastes like ostrich fern green asparagus, except that it is much easier to cultivate. I am fascinated a lot of plants that might yield deep shade, where none of our common vegetables would thrive and ostrich fern is one of them.

Steamed ostrich fern with melted butter is a delicacy!
Steamed ostrich fern with melted butter is a delicacy!

I also took the opportunity to update graphs comparing the nutritional values ​​that I posted last week data for Ostrich. As we see, contains the nice fern fewer minerals than many other perennial vegetables and almost no vitamin C. However, the protein and 100 g ostrich fern covers roughly the entire daily requirement of vitamin A.

The nutritional content of various perennial vegetables, now including fern.
The nutritional content of various perennial vegetables, now including fern.

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