by Judy Ann Davis
The spring fiddle heads are popping through the earth, and you can almost see them growing before your eyes. I admit it, I’m a fan of ferns. There is something delicate and eye-catching about these ornamental plants. Every year we watch them materialize from the flowerbeds around our patio; and every year I purchase four pots of ferns to hang from hooks around the perimeter of it. Ferns are a native plant of Pennsylvania which means they occurred in this region before settlement by Europeans.
Fiddleheads are the young, tightly-coiled leaves of the ostrich fern. Although all types of ferns technically have fiddleheads, only those from the ostrich fern are safe for consumption. They are considered a delicacy in areas where the ostrich fern grows natively and are identified by the papery brown scales that cover their coils. Only those who can properly identify the ostrich fern should consider cooking them for consumption.
With over 900 members, The American Fern Society is one of the largest international fern clubs in the world. It was established in 1893 with the objective of fostering interest in ferns and fern allies.