Native to boggy areas of the eastern United States and Canada, the cinnamon fern is one of the earliest ferns to emerge in the spring. Young fronds are covered with white, woolly hair before they unfurl. When full grown, the waxy fronds are yellow-green and grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 6 to 8 inches wide. There are two distinctly different types of fronds—fertile and sterile.
The fertile frond resembles a cinnamon stick. It emerges first, and after releasing its spores it turns golden brown, withers, and lies on the ground through the summer.
The sterile fronds appear in late spring, stay green all summer, and turn brown with the first fall frost. This fern requires a slightly acid (pH 5.5 to 6.5) soil that is kept evenly moist. It spreads slowly, and because of its height, it is best used as a background plant.