Ostrich Tail Ferns are one of the largest species of fern in North America and are particularly abundant in northern North America. The spore columns develop in the fall, stand through the winter, and drop their spore in early spring.
This species favors river banks, grows a completely vertical crown but spreads out to form new crowns. Very dense colonies are grown, and by their lateral expansion, resist seasonal destruction caused by floodwaters.
Due to Alaska's extended sunlight of spring and summer, the ferns growth rate is exceptional … sometimes exceeding two inches per day.
The series below shows the fiddleheads first extending out of individual crowns about a foot tall … this was on May 22nd. The remaining pictures show the entire maturity of the ferns over 30 days … until the Summer Solstice on June 21st (last four images).
The majority of these amazing Ostrich Plumes stand about 5-6 feet tall … but in some years, several fronds will reach 7 feet tall. This healthy fern grotto is transplanted from the huge cottonwood forests on the banks of the Susitna and Talkeetna Rivers.
They grow to be a wall of greenery through the northern summer!
All images © Dave Parkhurst www.TheAlaskaCollection.com