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Andreana Bitsis

Fiddlehead Ferns Aren’t Just For Eating

The non-edible purple cousin of this ephemeral spring vegetable makes a whimsical addition to any bouquet.

Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight fiddlehead ferns: a pretty purple curly-cue of a plant that adds whimsy and intrigue to any bouquet.

Fiddlehead ferns are familiar to many as a dinnertime guest– we always look forward to fiddlehead season at the farmers market. Eaten, fiddleheads are an excellent source of fatty acids and antioxidants— but in a dark purple, non-edible variety, they are also an intriguing accent for bouquets, wedding corsages, and boutonnieres.

ask ella curly fern

Andreana Bitsis

Though the term “fiddlehead” refers generally to any furled frond of a fern, the purple variety Ella prefers are known simply as fiddlehead ferns (just ask your local florist for them).

To keep the fanciful fillers fresh, place the whole plant– stem, head, and all– in water and then refrigerate until you’re ready to use. Once placed in the arrangement, try to keep them out of direct sunlight and replace the water frequently (their usual lifespan is about five to six days).

For an especially dramatic, gothic effect, Ella pairs the ferns with dark calla lilies or black magic roses in bouquets. For a less severe look, try mixing them in with purple or lavender flowers for an eclectic, playful arrangement.

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