Fern identification

The following photos will allow you to identify ferns. Click on image to view plant details.

What are ferns?

Ferns have populated this planet since the beginning of time. At least almost. They exist already several hundred million years.

Characteristic for ferns is that they do not flower and do not form seeds, but spread by spores. As, by the way, also fungi and mosses. But they are not related to them.

What do ferns look like?

Ferns are mostly well recognizable by their leaves, which are also called fronds. There are also exceptions to this “rule”. The leaves of some clover ferns (Marsileaceae) may look like those of white clover or sour clover.

Also, not all ferns have pinnate fronds. Some nest ferns, such as Asplenium nidus, have undivided leaves.

Among fern plants are giants whose trunks can grow many feet tall. By the way, some of these tree ferns are popular houseplants. They grow so slowly that they can be maintained for a long time in small containers.

But there are also very small ferns, whose fronds grow only a few centimeters long.

The fronds of ferns can be arranged in rosettes or appear on creeping shoots.

Where do ferns live?

Many ferns are adapted to semi-shady to shady habitats with high humidity and evenly moist soil. They grow in forests and ravines.

There are also submerged (underwater) ferns. So are epiphytic species, those that sit on trees, and lithophytic species, those that live on or among stones.

Asplenium ruta-muraria for example, colonizes walls and stairs. It can also be found growing wild in villages and towns.