Fern definition

fûrn
Frequency:
Any of numerous flowerless, seedless vascular plants that produce spores giving rise to free-living gametophytes and that often have dissected leaves.
noun
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Any of a widespread division (Filicophyta) of nonflowering embryophytes having roots, stems, and fronds, and reproducing by spores instead of by seeds.
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Any of numerous seedless vascular plants belonging to the phylum Pterophyta that reproduce by means of spores and usually have feathery fronds divided into many leaflets. Most species of ferns are homosporous (producing only one kind of spore). The haploid spore grows into a small, usually flat gametophyte known as a prothallus , which is undifferentiated into roots, stems, and leaves. The green prothallus anchors itself with hairlike extensions known as rhizoids and bears both archegonia (organs producing female gametes) and antheridia (organs producing male gametes). The male gametes require the presence of water to swim to the female gametes and fertilize the eggs. Normally only one embryo is produced, and it then grows out of the gametophyte plant as a diploid sporophyte plant that has roots, stems, and leaves and conducts photosynthesis, while the smaller gametophyte withers away. The leaves of these sporophytes eventually produce sporangia (in some species occurring in clusters known as sori ). Under dry conditions, the sori burst releasing hundreds of thousands or millions of spores. Ferns were abundant in the Carboniferous period and exist today in about 11,000 species, about three-quarters of which live in tropical climates.
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Any of a group of some twenty thousand species of vascular plants classified in the division Pteridophyta that lack seeds and reproduce by shedding spores to initiate an alternation of generations.
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A female given name from the fern plant.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
fern
Plural:
ferns

Origin of fern

  • Middle English from Old English fearn per-2 in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Old English fearn, from Proto-Germanic *farną (cf. Dutch varen, German Farn), from Proto-Indo-European *pornóm (“wing, feather”). Cognate with Lithuanian spar̃nas, Albanian fier (“fern”), Avestan [script?] (parəna, “feather”), Sanskrit पर्ण (parṇá, “feather”).

    From Wiktionary