Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not from Neil Young

with 32 comments

Cinnamon Fern 7441

In 1969 Neil Young may have wanted to live with a Cinnamon Girl, but in the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County, Illinois, on June 7th of this year I was content to spend a few minutes with a cinnamon fern, Osmundastrum cinnamomeum.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 8, 2016 at 5:06 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

32 Responses

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  1. This could be Cinnamon Curl.


    August 8, 2016 at 5:38 AM

  2. I’ve seen fossils of ferns, but it never occurred to me that relatives of those plants might still be around. The cinnamon fern already had been dated to 75 million years ago and considered a “living fossil,” but there’s evidence now that people in the know think they can push that back to 180 million years ago.

    I never would have guessed that the cinnamon stick also is a frond, or that it’s the spore-bearing portion of the plant. Live and learn, indeed.


    August 8, 2016 at 6:15 AM

    • I like your research. The only previous time I’d seen a cinnamon fern was in around 2000 when some of us from Austin spent a few days over by the Big Thicket. Seems I jumped from one bog to another.

      I think I knew that a cinnamon stick is a dried frond but had forgotten. At Costco we buy large containers (10.7 ounces) of ground cinnamon from Vietnam for just a few dollars. We don’t buy them often because each container lasts so long.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      • I just learned that cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree rather than from the frond of a fern. Please see my reply to Gary, below yours.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 8, 2016 at 5:18 PM

    • Yet another bit of knowledge to add to the bank. I didn’t know that either and, truth be told, never really thought about it. I suppose one could harvest it oneself–and learn how to go about preparing it for normal use. I don’t remember its being mentioned in Stalking the Wild Asparagus.


      August 8, 2016 at 5:02 PM

      • The cinnamon fern that grows in the United States isn’t the same plant from which cinnamon is harvested:


        According to that article, it’s the bark of a tree that’s harvested and that curls into cinnamon sticks.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 8, 2016 at 5:13 PM

        • Dang. And here I was getting ready to gather ferns with which to stir my tea.


          August 8, 2016 at 10:02 PM

          • You can still try stirring your tea with the central stalk from a cinnamon fern and let us know what happens.

            Steve Schwartzman

            August 8, 2016 at 10:06 PM

            • According to gardeningknowhow.com, they grow wild in swamps and on moist mountain slopes of eastern North America. I’ve seen something quite similar in a wetland very close to our cabin, but I don’t recall seeing the central cinnamon-colored vertical structures. We’ve been calling them ostrich ferns, but I’ll have a closer look at it later this summer and try to get a more definitive ID.


              August 9, 2016 at 9:04 AM

              • Do let us know what you find out. The only other place I’d seen a cinnamon fern was in a swampy region in far east Texas called the Big Thicket.

                Steve Schwartzman

                August 9, 2016 at 9:25 AM

  3. Nice focus, Steve.


    August 8, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    • I see that my lens was zoomed to 35mm and the aperture was f/8, so pretty much everything came out in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2016 at 8:03 AM

  4. I’m sure Neil Young will remember.


    August 8, 2016 at 9:46 AM

  5. One of our more common fern species. I am fortunate to have them growing in our yard as well as most everywhere else I visit.

    Steve Gingold

    August 10, 2016 at 3:45 AM

    • Oh, right in your yard. That’s so different from my very limited experience with this species, which I’d come across only once before, some 250 miles east of Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2016 at 4:17 AM

      • We have several species of ferns in the small wooded area behind the house. I’ve been remiss in not photographing them more. This is not the best year for it so will now be a future project.

        Steve Gingold

        August 10, 2016 at 4:33 AM

        • While we don’t have cinnamon ferns in Austin, we do have other kinds, a couple of which are common along the creeks in my hilly part of town. As near you, they vary in lushness here depending on the amount of rain we’ve had. The rain in the spring of 2015 did a lot for the maidenhair ferns:


          Talk about greenity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 10, 2016 at 4:41 AM

          • Our ferns of any variety are not nearly as lush as in your linked image. Most in my yard are now browning.

            Steve Gingold

            August 10, 2016 at 2:55 PM

            • That linked image probably showed the lushest ferns I’ve ever seen here, given all the rain we’d had. It’s much more common to have some brown mixed with green, and during our occasional droughts the brown predominates.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 10, 2016 at 3:56 PM

  6. I did wonder what the Neil Young reference might be. Clever pairing!

    Susan Scheid

    August 14, 2016 at 11:05 AM

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