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The Hairy Fern

One of the earliest ferns to poke through the ground in freshwater wetlands in the eastern U.S. and Canada is the Cinnamon Fern. As is true of many ferns when this plant first appears, it looks like the top of a fiddle thus it is called a fiddle head. This “fiddle” will unfurl into a frond (leaf) reaching heights of three to four feet.

Cinnamon ferns are covered in light cinnamon-colored woolly hairs rendering the plant unpalatable to wildlife. Yellow warblers, hummingbirds, thrushes and other birds harvest these hairs to line their nests. The fern’s fertile fronds are plume -like and produce spores that are a cinnamon brown color.

This fern is often planted in landscapes in yards for native bog gardens. It thrives in shady areas with wet acid soils.

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