Ferns are one of the oldest species of plants present in the world today. Some fern species date back to the Carboniferous period (359.2 to 299 million years ago) though some scientists believe them to be older! It’s estimated that there are 10,500 to 15,000 different species of ferns. New fern species continue to be discovered as scientists venture into previously unexplored tropical areas.
Ferns are most abundant in tropical areas, but they can be found almost anywhere. They grow best in shaded, damp areas with rich soil. Neochrome, which is a type of light sensor, allows ferns to move towards light sources and thrive in lowlight areas. Unlike other plants, which reproduce through flowers or seeds, ferns reproduce with spores. Sporangia on the fern’s leaves produce spores. When those spores are released, they fall to the ground and begin to grow.
The gardens at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum are home to a lot of ferns! You can stop by every day from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Make sure to bring along Garden Scavenger Hunt #2 to learn more about the different plants and other living things in the garden!
Want to know more about ferns? Look for Ferns by Allan Fowler and Fern Finder by Barbara Hallowell or visit The US Forest Service’s website.