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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
ROYAL FERN, FLOWERING FERN
Pronounced: oz-MUN-duh ray-GAH-lis
Found on all continents except Australia.
Sunset zones: 1-9, 14-17.
USDA zones: 2-10.
Heat zones: 9-1
Height: 6 feet (2 m).
Width: 3 feet (90 cm).
Deciduous, lance shaped, bright green, sterile leaves, 2 pinnate. Dark green fertile fronds appear in summer, and when the spores are released, the fronds turn a rusty-tan color.
Bright shade to full sun.
Humus rich, moist to wet soil.
Sow spores when ripe.
Divide in early spring or autumn.
Pests and Diseases:
Rust may be a problem.
Rainy Side Notes
The majestic fern, Osmunda regalis, shows up on every continent in the world except for Australia. It is not native to the Pacific Northwest; however, it heartily grows in our climate. This handsome fern grows naturally in wet sites and swamps, a plus for growing them in our perpetually wet soils during winter. Given ample moisture, the royal fern will thrive in full sun. I grow mine in the shade of trees, rubbing elbows with the shiny, leathery leaves of sarcococca. I am fond of the no-shine, mat-like finish of its bright green leaves as it adds a lighter texture to the shady garden.
Native Americans used the fern medicinally to help alleviate convulsions caused by intestinal worms. It was also used for watery blood, strong menses, insanity and chronically ill babies. The root fibers were used for weaving mats, rugs and bedding.
The fibrous roots are used as a potting mix for orchids. An interesting tidbit is the green spores themselves have the ability to photosynthesize. The Royal Horticultural Society gave this fern an Award of Garden Merit.
Photographed in author's garden.