Fiddleheads, an early spring delicacy throughout their range, are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but those of the ostrich fern are unlike any other. Ostrich fern fiddleheads, which are about an inch in diameter, can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern, as well as the smooth fern stem, and the deep ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem. Look for ostrich ferns emerging in clusters of about three to twelve fiddleheads each on the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks in late April, May, and early June. Make sure that you have landowner permission before harvesting fiddleheads.
For information on fiddleheads including safety of consuming, harvesting, cleaning, storing, cooking, freezing and canning (including a video), and recipes visit University of Maine Cooperative Extension and continue reading publication #4198 Facts on Fiddleheads.