Fern spores wiggle around like insects

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/04/21/fern-spores-wiggle-around-like-insects.html


I heard a botanist who worked at an Extension office (maybe at Cornell?), who answered an advice line for gardeners. He said he got a lot of calls from elderly folk concerned about brown spots on their ferns. “That’s ok, they’re just having sex”.
He said he frequently got people gasping and hanging up.


Surely the spores are the stuff the wriggly things throw out? Not the wriggly things.



Reminds me a bit of watching the motile sperm of the ginko biloba. The sperm of the ginkgo biloba tree are motile, meaning they have flagellae. This is a characteristic only found in ginkgo and cycads among living seed plants. Plants and botany in general is fascinating.


Probably not surprising they’re living fossils then, like ferns, possibly from before flowers evolved?


Ferns are so wonderful and weird. Mom taught me to also appreciate mosses and lichens.

My favorite fern didn’t last more than a handful of years. Mom planted it in a gen’lly good location, but it may have objected to the wind. tophat-shrug

… This cultivated form was preserved from a strain first spotted in Ireland in the County Wicklow garden of a certain Mrs. Frizell, in 1857. “It grew between two boulders so fast & with so little soil,” said Mrs. Frizell, “that it was with great difficulty my husband removed it.”

Rarely so tall as two feet high & wide, it is typically only about one foot high, & eighteen inches wide. Individual one-foot-long fronds are a mere one-inch wide along their whole length, with a series of rounded or miniature fan-shaped pinnae often described as either like rows of beads, or like tatting lace. To me the leaves most resemble ribbons of ricrac. Someone who actually tats described the Tatting Fern as having the appearance of “multi-picoted rings.” …

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