Ostrich Fern fiddleheads!

In the face of a very tight schedule over the next few days, I respond to the seasonal imperative of spring sprouts, and head out to Actons Corners to harvest fiddleheads. Fred checked the database and gave me instructions on how to locate a big patch of Ostrich Fern that he had spotted on 27 May 1993. As I drove a bit too far east while searching for the area he described, I saw a Bittern fly up from the ditch along Actons Corners Road, and heard Toads trilling, at 11:45. Creeping down onto the fern flats of the creek called Murphy's Drain, I walk among fountains of Ostrich Fern fronds in all stages of unfurling, rejoicing that I am not too late, and after taking some photos, settle down to picking contentedly, snapping one or two tender, green, orange-scaley knobs from each clenched fist of rhizomes, leaving the rest to grow up into feathery fronds.

Ostrich Fern fiddlehead ostrichf.JPG

At home, I tipped the bag into a pot of boiling water, and after it returned to a boil, waited for a few minutes as their green deepened, before dipping them out into a collander and then rinsing the chaffy brown scales off in a sink of cold water. Three ziplock bags of fiddleheads went into the freezer - except one bowlfull that I marinated with fresh lemon juice, a dash of Umeboshi plum brine, and olive oil, as a supper salad. Then I cooked up the more loosely curled fiddleheads for Fred and I to enjoy right away with butter, salt & pepper. As long as the frond is new and tender, it is good to eat!


  1. I’m in the process of putting together the spring/summer calendar at Northfield Mountain Recreation & Environmental Center. One of the free family programs we’re offering is called, “Family Fiddleheads, Flowers & Frogs.”

    I’d love to use your ostrich fern fiddlehead photo in both our newsletter and in flyers that get posted at local libraries, country stores, etc. Would you mind giving your consent to use the photo in this way? Of course, you would be credited and a link to your website will be included in the newsletter.

    Thanks very much for your time.


    -Beth Bazler
    Public Environmental Program Coordinator

  2. I am a botany student at the University of New Brunswick studying under Dr. Kate Frego. I am currently working on a project for her in which I study the uses of plants in an extreme survival context. In this project I would like to use the fiddlehead picture on this page. May I have your consent to use the photo?

    Thank you in advance,

    - Gillian Capper


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