First reported in the wild
Invasive species - risk of Medium Impact
Introduction pathways - 1
Escape from Confinement
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Fern, with pinnate leaves up to 1.5m long, arranged in a 'shuttle cock' shape, with shorter fertile leaves up to 60cm long (Preston, 2004; Stace, 1997).
Outcompetes and crowds out native vegetation at site in Lough Neagh (Reynolds, 2002). Southern most range of the species in Europe appears to be in Poland (Grzybowski & Kruk, 2015) suggesting the climatic conditions in much of Ireland may be unsuited to it and are likely to become less suitable in future.
Woodland, forest and other wooded land; Mires, bogs & fens
Clonal plant and all root stocks within a population may have the same genotype (genes) (Grzybowski & Kruk, 2015), it spreads through stolons (Preston et al., 2004).
Pathway and vector description
Rare garden escape, Reynolds records 4 sites were it has been present, with only the Lough Neagh site seeming to persist (2002). Introduced into gardens due to the distinctive 'shuttle-cock' shape (Preston et al., 2002). As the population at Lough Neagh has been established but not spread since the 1920s (Reynolds, 2002) the likely vector for dispersal is human mediated, by secondary introductions from garden plants.
Mechanism of impact
Site near Lough Neagh of damp woodland typical of growth in the Britain, also found in fens, generally found in water logged clay soils (Preston, 2004; Reynolds, 2002).
Europe, North America, Temperate Asia
Established - Rare & Localised. Only recorded established population is on the shores of Lough Neagh where it has been present since the 1920s (Reynolds, 2002).
Despite the common name "ostrich fern", this species is native to the Cold Temperate and Boreal regions of North America, Europe and Asia, though absent from the western, northern and southern most parts of Europe (Odland et al., 2006). Introduced into Britain in 1760 (Preston et al., 2004).
Date of first record category
Fifty year date category
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023
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How can you help
Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Do not plant in the wild or in gardens where it may escape or seed into the wild.
Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D. A. & Dines, T. D. (2002). New atlas of the British and Irish flora. An atlas of the vascular plants of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, Oxford University Press. Stace, C. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Grzybowski, M., & Kruk, M. (2015). Variations in the population structure and ecology of Matteuccia struthiopteris. Population Ecology, 57(1), 127-141. Odland, A., Naujalis, J. R., & Stapulionyte, A. (2006). Variation in the structure of Matteuccia struthiopteris populations in Lithuania. Biologija, 1, 83-90.