Ferns never bear flowers and reproduce by spores, not seeds. The ferns and fern allies, the horsetails and the clubmosses, were once dominant plant forms on earth and reached tree size in coal-producing swamps. They are now much diminished in size and there are relatively few species. Fern leaves are quite variable, ranging from simple to once-cut, twice-cut and thrice-cut, the latter having the lacy appearance that we consider “fern-like”. Some are evergreen. Spores are usually bourn on the underside of fertile leaves, but may be on separate stalks. The arrangement of the fruit dots, or clusters of spores, is very important in identification. Some “ferns”, such as asparagus fern and sweet fern are flowering plants, not ferns at all.

Flower This family contains flowers.

Bracken Pteridium latiusculum
Fern, boulder
Fern, brittle
Fern, Christmas Polystichium acrosticoides
Fern, cinnamon Osmunda cinnamomea
Fern, Cut-Leaved Grape Botrychium dissectum
Fern, fragile Cystopteris fragilia
Fern, hay scented Dennstaedia punctilobula
Fern, interrupted Osmunda claytoniana
Fern, lady Athyrium filix-femina
Fern, Maidenhair Adiantum pedatum
Fern, New York Thelypteris noveboracensis
Fern, ostrich Matteuccia struthiopteris
Fern, rattlesnake Botrychium virginianum
Fern, Sensitive Onoclea sensibilis
Fern, Virginia grape
Fern, walking Camptosorus rhizophyllus
Polypody, common Polypodium vulgare
Spleenwort, ebony Asplenium platyneuron
Woodfern, Marginal Dryopteris marginalis
Woodfern, Spinulose Dryopteris spinulosa