The fern is one of the most primitive forms of plants we find on Earth. Even though ferns have leaves and roots, they don’t grow from a seed and do not produce flowers. However, these plants are also grown in some places to gather food, as ornamental plants, and also for healing adulterated soils. Hence, here are some interesting things that one should know about the life cycle of ferns.
1. The Habitat
There is a misunderstanding that ferns grow only in shady woodlands. In fact ferns can grow in a huge variety of habitats from mountain tops to rocky deserts. They are mostly found in shady forests where there is plenty of water, and other tropical tree areas. Ferns can also grow in rock crevices and in acid wetlands such as swamps.
2. The Spores
Ferns reproduce primarily through the use of spores instead of producing flowers to propagate. Moreover, these spores are basically structures that are able to move away from the fern itself and adapt to the environmental conditions. When compared to seeds, spores have much less nutrients in them but they can also develop in a new plant.
3. Fern Life Cycle Process
The life cycle process of a fern consists of five basic steps. First, the plant produces spores on its leaves which are usually like small brown dots. Then the fern spores leave the plant and settle in troublesome conditions as they start to grow through a process called photosynthetic prothallus until they become a gametophyte. These gametophytes then produce a quantity of sperms and eggs which eventually start the fertilization process. Finally, the fertilized egg continues to grow until it becomes a fern.
4. Fern Structure
Basically a fern consists of three structures: stems, leaves, and roots. The stems are like the skeleton of the whole plant consisting of a semi-woody trunk. In addition, a fern produces three types of leaves which are biologically called trophophyll, sporophyll and brophophyll. The main difference between these leaves is the amount of spores they produce, starting from the trophophyll which produces no spores and ending up with the brophoyll which produces a huge amount of spores. Like the majority of plants, ferns have roots to absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
5. Basic Fern Uses
Nearly all ferns are edible but some species such as the bracken are specifically used for food. Other ferns such as the mosquito fern are also used to make natural fertilizers which are then spread on fields especially in southeast Asia. Furthermore, ferns are very common in the florist trade since they can make very nice ornamental plants because of their long and green leaves.
Finally, you can notice the dazzling work of nature during the life cycle process of this plant. It was through this process that ferns continued to grow on our planet since the Triassic era of the dinosaurs and this makes it one of the oldest inhabitants of planet Earth. This explains why ferns are found in every corner of our planet.