Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Osmunda cinnamomea


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A. 1994. Osmunda cinnamomea. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : OSMCIN SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : OSCI COMMON NAMES : cinnamon fern TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of cinnamon fern is Osmunda cinnamomea L. It is in the family Osmundaceae [7,26]. Recognized subspecies, varieties, and form are as follows: O. c. ssp. asiatica (Fern.) Hulten (found in eastern Asia) [7] O. c. var. cinnamomea [22,52] O. c. var. glandulosa Waters [9,18,52] O. c. forma frondosa (T. & G.) Britt. [7,49,52,62] LIFE FORM : Fern or Fern Ally FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Cinnamon fern occurs in North America from Newfoundland to western Ontario and south to the Gulf States and New Mexico. It also occurs in eastern Asia [7,22]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL AR CT DC FL GA IL IN KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS NH NJ NM NY NC OH PA RI SC TN TX VT VA WV WI NB NF NS ON PE PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K073 Northern cordgrass prairie K079 Palmetto prairie K091 Cypress savanna K092 Everglades K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K094 Conifer bog K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 12 Black spruce 13 Black spruce - tamarack 16 Aspen 17 Pin cherry 18 Paper birch 19 Gray birch - red maple 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 37 Northern white-cedar 38 Tamarack 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 70 Longleaf pine 74 Cabbage palmetto 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 97 Atlantic white-cedar 98 Pond pine 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay 108 Red maple SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Cinnamon fern is listed as a habitat type or indicator species in: Freshwater Wetlands: A guide to common indicator plants of the northeast [38] Application of forest habitat-type classification system in Michigan and Wisconsin [30] Species associated with cinnamon fern are listed for bogs in northeastern Illinois [55], southern New Hampshire [12], North Carolina [28,46,53,61], Louisiana [2,36], and eastern Texas [44]; peatlands in northcentral Minnesota [63]; Florida gulf coast hydric hammocks [57], cypress heads [16,45], and bayheads [1]; pocosins in several states [3]; South Carolina wet longleaf pine savannahs [20]; and an eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)-fern community with mesic soil and high humidity in northeastern West Virginia [39].


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : NO-ENTRY PALATABILITY : Cinnamon fern was grazed by cattle in southeastern North Carolina in pond pine (Pinus rigida var. serotina) forests. It ranked second only to cane (Arundinaria gigantea) in cattle preference. In May, before cane fully leafed out, 30 to 50 percent of available cinnamon fern herbage was utilized, after which fern utilization practically ceased. Cinnamon fern was palatable for about a month after fronds unrolled [53]. White-tailed deer were observed grazing substantial amounts of cinnamon fern in southwestern Virginia in 1982 [62]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Cinnamon fern coiled fiddlehead leaves up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall can be collected in the spring, steamed or boiled, and eaten [15]. Cinnamon fern spore germination in liquid medium is useful for bioassay of toxic copper, cadmium, and zinc concentrations [19]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Cattle grazed cinnamon fern in southeastern North Carolina, but because of the short time it was utilized, grazing had relatively little effect on the total fern stand. In places where grazing was heavy, the density and vigor of cinnamon fern was noticeably reduced. Cinnamon fern was more abundant on unlogged than on logged sites, in both grazed and ungrazed conditions [53]. Cinnamon fern in southeastern Connecticut was an associate in lowland hardwood and shrub communities subjected to 20 years of herbicide use on trees to maintain shrubs. Cinnamon fern cover was 1 to 5 percent both before herbicide treatment began in 1953 and after 20 years of treatment [47]. Cinnamon fern in Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) wetlands in New Jersey occurred in sites of all disturbance classes studied including undisturbed sites, those in housing developments, and those at stormwater drain outfalls [13]. Cinnamon fern in eastern Quebec was present in a northern hardwoods site that was clearcut and subjected to three experimental disturbance treatments: prepared with a V-blade (high intensity), prepared with a toothed brush rake (medium intensity), or disked (low intensity). Cinnamon fern was more common on the low-disturbance site but survived on other sites [24]. Cinnamon fern in naturally regenerated, mature slash pine (Pinus elliottii) flatwoods in southeastern Florida was present at 1.3 kilograms per hectare foliage biomass. The site was then clearcut in the fall of 1978, prepared by burning, shearing and piling, discing and bedding, and planted to slash pine in 1979. In two subsequent vegetation surveys in the summers of 1980 and 1981, cinnamon fern was not present [8]. Cinnamon fern frequently forms large clumps [7] and may produce almost all the understory cover in swamps with dense overstory shade [4].


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Cinnamon fern is a perennial fern which is native to the eastern United States. Rhizomes of sporophytic plants are stout, woody [49], and creeping [18] to suberect [7]; the roots are fibrous [49]. Sporophytes have separate fertile and sterile pinnate fronds are covered with thick hairs when immature. Some hairs are still present on fertile fronds at maturity [7]. Sterile fronds are up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long [65] and 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) [49] wide. Fertile fronds are shorter than sterile fronds, and the pinnae are much smaller, nonphotosynthetic, and cinnamon brown. Sporangia are clustered, naked, large, globose, and bivalved [7]. Cinnamon fern spores are green, with functional chloroplasts. The spores germinate into photosynthetic, platelike, thalloid gametophytes [23,42]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Cinnamon fern spores have very short viability after release from the sporophyte. They either fail to germinate or germinate poorly after just a few weeks [42]. Under controlled conditions, spores germinate at high percentages at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C), and they also germinate at higher temperatures [23]. One study showed that cinnamon fern sporophytes allelopathically inhibited germination of cinnamon fern spores [59]. Another study did not demonstrate this effect [48]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Cinnamon fern is found on poorly drained low ground and in thickets, wet marshy woods [7], swamps, ditches, and streambanks [49]. It is generally found in ombrotrophic bogs [60], but it also grows on minerotrophic wooded island hummocks in peatlands [63]. It is usually associated with sphagnum (Sphagnum spp.) [59] in wet acid soils with high organic content [28,46,55]; it is an indicator of such soils in the Haut-Saint-Laurent region, Quebec [41]. Where humidity is very high cinnamon fern can sometimes be found on better drained soils [39]. Cinnamon fern has been reported at the following elevations: Elevation (feet) Elevation (m) Florida 125-141 38-43 [1] Louisiana 197-276 60-84 [36] Maryland 0-51 0-16 [4] New York 210-3,124 64-952 [32] North Carolina 39-2,917 12-889 [28,60,64] South Carolina 45-75 14-23 [20] West Virginia 1,096-2,625 334-800 [6,39] Ontario 581 177 [25] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Cinnamon fern is considered a late seral species in the bog seres of the northern United States and Laurentian Canada, but may not persist to climax stages [10]. In the Adirondack upland flora cinnamon fern is intolerant to midtolerant of shade [32]. Cinnamon fern in west Louisiana occurs in bogs that are mostly open, with a few scattered trees and shrubs [36]. However, cinnamon fern occurs in heavy shade under a closed canopy along the Gulf Coast of Florida [57]. It also occurs under shade in Atlantic white-cedar wetlands in New Jersey [13] and in baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps in eastern Maryland [4]. Cinnamon fern in a southern Ontario bog was subjected to disturbance by peat mining which removed all vegetation and up to 6.6 feet (2 m) of peat. The mined areas had been abandoned to natural, unassisted regeneration for 1, 6, 10, and 24 years. Cinnamon fern occurred in all disturbance classes, but did not occur in the undisturbed control site [25]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Both sterile and fertile cinnamon fern fronds expand during a short period in early spring [32,37]. Leaf expansion is complete within about a month. Fertile fronds begin to wither in early summer, after sporulation is completed [32]. Sterile pinnae begin to wither at the end of summer, and the stipe somewhat later, until the entire aerial part of the plant is dry [37]. Cinnamon fern spores are discharged in spring. They can germinate within 1 or 2 days of release [23]. Cinnamon fern sporulates from March through July, depending on latitude [20,43,52].


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Although fronds are probably killed by fire during the growing season, cinnamon fern sprouts from rhizomes after the aerial portions are burned [49,53]. Cinnamon fern has good fire tolerance and shows vigorous rhizome growth after fire [51]. Spores germinate on mineral soil [23], so cinnamon fern probably colonizes after fire. It grows in the open conditions created by fire in at least part of its range [20,36,60]. Cinnamon fern occurs in the Greater Sandhills of south-central North Carolina in Atlantic white-cedar dominated wetland corridors. The trees in these wetlands show evidence of past fires [46]. Cinnamon fern occurs in the Green Swamp, North Carolina, longleaf pine/wiregrass savannahs which are maintained by frequent fire [28]. It also occurs in fire-maintained South Carolina longleaf pine savannahs [20]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Cinnamon fern fronds are probably killed by fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Cinnamon fern appears to be well adapted to recurring fires. It occurred in a west Louisiana bog that was burned on a regular basis during the winter [36]. It also occurred in a southern Mississippi peat bog burned annually for 7 years [14]. Cinnamon fern occurs in North Carolina Coastal Plain longleaf pine-wiregrass savannahs that are fire maintained. The savannahs have fire intervals typically less than 8 years [60]. Cinnamon fern in the wetter areas of a virgin longleaf pine forest in southwestern Georgia increased greatly over 27 years of annual burning. In this area cinnamon fern disappears within about 5 years in the absence of fire, due in part to competition from shrubs and young trees [29]. Cinnamon fern occurred on a fire barren in southwestern Nova Scotia that had burned 2 years before. It was thought to be a component of the prefire vegetation that survived the fire [40]. Cinnamon fern occurs in both burned and unburned tree islands in the Florida Everglades, but is much more abundant on unburned islands. Fire on these islands tends to burn out the peat substrate during periods of drought [35]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Cinnamon fern usually increases slightly in response to fire. Cinnamon fern in an eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)-mixed hardwood forest in New Hampshire was subjected to October 1976 and April 1977 prescribed fires. Cinnamon fern occurred throughout the forest in moist pockets and depressions. Fires were of low severity, with flames 10 to 18 inches (25.4-45.7 cm) high and scorch heights 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8 m). Cinnamon fern increased in cover and importance value after the fall fire, but not after the spring fire or on control plots. Cinnamon fern also occurred sporadically in adjacent eastern white pine forest plots that were burned at the same times. Fire severity was less, with flames 4 to 6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm) high and scorch heights 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m). Cinnamon fern was listed as neutral in response to fire on these sites [51]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Cinnamon fern survives fires in many habitat types and may increase in cover [51]. However, if the fire is so intense or of such duration that it burns the organic substrate completely, cinnamon fern will be lost [35]. Cinnamon fern occurs on hillside seepage bogs in longleaf pine savannah of east-central Texas that is burned every 3 to 5 years during the nongrowing season to maintain savannah vegetation [44]. Cinnamon fern in bayheads of south Florida may survive wet-season fires, but drought-season fires can destroy them by burning out the islands [58]. Cinnamon fern occurs in North Carolina Coastal Plain shrub bog communities that become grass (Poaceae)-sedge (Cyperaceae) bogs when burned [61]. In northeastern Minnesota the summer moisture content of 21 groups of understory plants was evaluated for fire prediction purposes from June 24, 1976 (after the period of primary plant growth) to August 26, 1976. Ferns, including cinnamon fern, were evaluated as a group. Fern moisture was approximately in the middle range when compared to other herbs [34].


SPECIES: Osmunda cinnamomea
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