A fern star is any one or more of a group of roughly 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta.
Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem (making them vascular plants). They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns reproduce via spores and have neither seeds nor flowers. Most ferns have what are called fiddleheads. The fiddleheads expand into what are called fronds, which are each delicately divided.
By far the largest group of ferns is the leptosporangiate ferns, but ferns as defined here (also called monilophytes) include horsetails, whisk ferns, marattioid ferns, and ophioglossoid ferns. The term pteridophyte traditionally refers to ferns and a few other seedless vascular plants, although some recent authors have used the term to refer strictly to the monilophytes.
Ferns first appear in the fossil record 360 MYA in the Carboniferous but many of the current families and species did not appear until roughly 145 MYA in the early Cretaceous (after flowering plants came to dominate many environments).
Ferns are not of major economic importance, but some are grown or gathered for food, as ornamental plants, for remediating contaminated soils, and have been the subject of research for their ability to remove some chemical pollutants from the air. Some are significant weeds. They also play a role in mythology, medicine, and art.
In Walking with... SeriesEdit
Ferns were some of plants that grew in the Jurassic forests; the ones featured in this episode were modern species, but there were some tree ferns as well.
The first half of this episode, set in a Carboniferous forest, features many ferns, both modern and ancient.