Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Cinnamon Fern - Osmundastrum cinnamomeum   (L.) C. Presl
Members of Osmundaceae:
Only member of Osmundastrum in NC.
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Section 2 » Family Osmundaceae
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Author(L.) C. Presl
DistributionOccurs statewide, certainly present in all 100 counties. Interestingly, when RAB (1968) was published, barely half of the counties in the Piedmont had collections, and the authors called it "sporadic" there! Thankfully, collectors have documented it now in nearly all Piedmont counties.

This is a very widespread Eastern species, ranging from eastern Canada to MN, south to the Gulf Coast, west to central TX. Also from Mex. and the West Indies to northern South America. Disjunct to eastern Asia.
AbundanceCommon and widespread in the Coastal Plain and Mountains, fairly common to locally common in the Piedmont (where distinctly less numerous than in the other two provinces).
HabitatThis species grows in most wetland habitats, especially where the soils are acidic. It grows in pocosins, wet savannas, blackwater swamps, marshes, bogs, and many other wet areas including roadside ditches.
PhenologyFruits from March to May.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar fern, seen almost daily in many areas of the state. It has dimorphic leaves, with a handful of sterile ones growing from the base, and a few fertile ones in the middle. Sterile leaves are about 3 feet tall, 2-pinnatifid, dark green and rather leathery in texture. There are about 15-20 pairs of pinnae, each 4-6 inches long and containing 15-25 pairs of rounded pinnules, cut essentially to the midrib, but with entire margins. The fertile stem reaches about 1.5 feet tall, the lower 1 foot being naked and the upper portion with brown pinnae that are strongly ascending to form a narrow "spike-like" structure containing the sporangia. This fertile stem emerges before the sterile ones (as they are unfurling), and wither by late spring. Some fronds of Claytonmunda claytoniana can resemble the sterile fronds of this species when they lack the several pairs of brown fertile pinnae in the center of the frond.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species was long known as Osmunda cinnamomea. It has been moved out of Osmunda and into a monotypic genus of its own.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, streamhead ecotone, Oct. 2014. RichmondPhoto_natural
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