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Ferns have roots, stems and leaves but no seeds. They reproduce by spores. There are about 12,000 species of fern.

 Growing Up

sunflowerFerns grow best in moist, humid habitats with low light. They are very common in rainforests. Ferns have delicate leaves called fronds. They start out curled in a tight ball that opens as the frond grows. Ferns have horizontal stems called rhizomes. Their roots grow out of the rhizome.

 Large and Small

sunflower Ferns come in all sizes. Tree ferns grow in the tropics and subtropics. Their large trunks can support fronds up to eight feet long!

More Spores

sunflowerFerns don't have seeds; they have spores. The spores are usually on the underside of the fronds. To reproduce, the fern releases the spores into the air. The spores don't grow into new ferns. They grow into something called a prothallus.

This is the gametophyte stage of the fern. The prothallus produces a sperm and an egg cell. The sperm fertilizes the egg. The fertilized egg grows into a new fern, which produces spores and starts the process all over again!

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