Communicable Disease Safety Plan

Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead fern is the coiled frond at the tip of a young fern, harvested for the purpose as an edible vegetable. It is usually harvested before the frond opens and reaches its full length, because it will be tough and stringy when it is uncoiled. Fiddlehead is only available in spring for a very short period, and they grow in moist and shaded areas, places like forest and river bottoms. There are different types of fiddlehead, and several of them are commonly eaten; such as ostrich fern, cinnamon fern, lady fern and bracken fern. It has a pleasantly crunchy and tender texture, with a fresh flavor reminiscent of a mix between asparagus and green bean. However, fiddlehead is toxic, which may cause nausea, lethargy, dizziness, and headache. Ostrich fern is the safest consumable fern amongst all. Raw fiddlehead has been associated with a few food-borne disease cases since 1994; therefore, it is usually sautéed, steamed, boiled or baked for consumption.

Nutritional Facts

Fiddleheads are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and are rich in niacin, magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. They are also rich in antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which are plant chemicals that help protect against disease.


Health Canada (2011, April 12) Food Safety Tip For Fiddlehead. Retrieved from

Lively, R. (2012) Fiddlehead Facts. Retrieved from

Specialty Prodcue (2012) Fiddelhead Ferns. Retrieved from