Matteuccia struthiopteris (common names ostrich fern, fiddlehead ferns or shuttlecock fern) is a crown-forming, colony-forming fern, occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in central and northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. The species epithet struthiopteris comes from Ancient Greek words, struthio meaning ostrich and pterion meaning wing.
It grows from a completely vertical crown, favoring riverbanks and sandbars, but sends out lateral stolons to form new crowns. It thus can form dense colonies resistant to destruction by floodwaters.
The fronds are dimorphic, with the deciduous green sterile fronds being almost vertical, 100–170 cm (39–67 in) tall and 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in) broad, long-tapering to the base but short-tapering to the tip, so that they resemble ostrich plumes, hence the name. The fertile fronds are shorter, 40–60 cm (16–24 in) long, brown when ripe, with highly modified and constricted leaf tissue curled over the sporangia; they develop in autumn, persist erect over the winter and release the spores in early spring.
Matteuccia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Sthenopis auratus.