Fiddlehead Fern Permits

Fiddlehead Ferns

Close up image of Fiddlehead Ferns. Photo by US Forest Service.

Fiddleheads are the unfurled new leaves of ferns and are harvested in spring. They vary in size and shape and not all are edible. It is important for the harvester be able to accurately identify any wild harvested foods. The most commonly harvested are the young shoots of the Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) and the Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum). For more information about Fiddlehead Ferns and locations check with the local Ranger District to plan your visit.


Printable Fiddlehead Fern Fact Sheet


Incidental Use

Permits are not required in certain situations: forest products may be consumed or used while on the forest without a permit. For example, berries or mushrooms may be eaten in the woods or down wood may be gathered for a campfire (on the forest) without a permit. Except where otherwise noted, it is not legal to remove products collected from the forest without a permit.


Free Use Permit Required

For items over incidental use, you will need to get a Free Use permit. This permit will allow you to gather up to (5) pounds of Fiddlehead Ferns per household per year.

  • Harvest within 50 feet of the edge of the road.
  • Obtain a permit issued by the Forest Service at your local Ranger District office.


Charge Use Required

If you want to collect over (5) pounds of Fiddlehead Ferns, you will need a Charge Use Permit. The price of the permit is $20 dollars for 200 lbs. of Fiddlehead Ferns. The Charge Use Permit is good for one month after the date of purchase. The Charge Use Product Summary Table shows the price of the permit as well as the limit on amounts of cuttings you may harvest with the permit. 


Do Your Part

If you pack it in, pack it out. Please remove all trash!

  • Do your part and respect the Forest by leaving it clean and free of trash.  For more information on how you can help, read the following information about practicing Leave No Trace principles
  • Follow all permit conditions.
  • Follow general rules and regulations for use of National Forest Systems lands, which are available at Ranger District offices.
  • Proper gathering techniques of Special Forest Products to ensure future availability.
  • It is ILLEGAL to harvest rare, threatened, or endangered plants.