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The Royal Fern is part of the Royal Fern family (Osmundaceae). A massive fern (fronds exceed 120cm in height and 25cm in width), the royal fern is a close relative of the cinnamon fern and interrupted fern. The fronds are deciduous and are hairy when young and are slightly waxy. The stem (rhizome) is much bigger than most ferns and forms a trunk that is capable of branching. The frond does not look “fern-like” and turns a golden brown in the fall. The leaflets (pinnae) and sub-leaflets (pinnules) are widely spaced, with the leaflets grow in pairs of 6 or more. Fiddleheads can be found in the spring and are burgundy in colour.
The royal fern does best in light shade and around wet, acidic swamps and bogs.
The spores of the royal fern mature in early to mid-summer. It can also reproduce vegetatively through crown expansion.