Fiddlehead ferns (Matteucia struthiopteris) by Alan R Pierce
Over 400,000 kilograms (kg) of fiddleheads are gathered from the wild each year in eastern North America (Dykeman and Cumming, 1985). In the US, the leading commercial distributor of fiddleheads is the W S Wells and Son Company in Maine, which produces 12 to 15 tonnes of canned fiddleheads per annum under the
Belle of Maine brand (von Aderkas, 1984). Roughly one third of the company’s raw material originates from Vermont, bought by representatives who advertise with the aforementioned posters in the Winooski and Connnecticut River Valleys, and in Vermont’s North-East Kingdom. The remainder of the Belle of
The ostrich fern is found in a number of wooded and non-wooded habitats, in full or partial shade, occasionally in full sun. The fern competes best in bottomlands and on rich alluvial soils bordering waterways such as Canada’s St John, Miramichi, Restigouche and Matapedia rivers and, in the US, the Connecticut, Penobscot, Kennebec and Winooski rivers. In riverside forests, ostrich fern may dominate the understorey in pure carpets. Among densely populated stands on Gilbert Island in the St John River, the fern may yield up to 1400 pounds (lbs) per acre (approximately 1570 kilogram per hectare) (von Aderkas, 1984).