Ferns are amazing plants in their beauty alone. They’re even more amazing when you begin to understand how ferns propagate. They have no flowers to entice pollinating insects so … how does a fern have sex?
Gardeners who know and love ferns realize that spores – the brown structures that arise on the undersides of mature fern fronds – are a fern’s reproductive cells. Once mature, these cells leave their parent fern to venture out and multiply. What’s fascinating is how the spores leave the parent plant.
As described in a December 31, 2014 article in the Wonderful Things series in Scientific American, ferns use a technique called cavitation catapult to disperse spores.
The article provides drawings and a video diagram explaining how this process works. But here’s the best part for plant geeks … a video showing actual fern spores being launched by the cavitation catapult process.