With the exception of Hawaii, Florida has more native ferns than any other state in the Union. There are approximately 130 species of fern native to Florida, of which only a handful are in widespread cultivation. Thankfully the royal fern, Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, is one of them.
The royal fern can reach a striking three to four feet high. From his book A Gardener's Guide to Florida Native Plants, author, Rufino Osorio writes, "with age, royal ferns assume a stunning architectural quality. The long, erect fronds are finely divided and this results in a surprisingly delicate effect for so large a plant."
Among the fronds are spore stalks (a.k.a. "fiddleheads") that run from green to a rusty brown, which are set off quite nicely by the evergreen foliage. This perennial fern also forms a trunk-like rhizome as it ages, which gives it a solidly regal appearance in the garden.