Ferns are close to the heart of every New Zealander - the silver fern is our favourite symbol on sports clothing for those representing our country, and the koru is on Air New Zealand's planes.

Ferns are everywhere in our bush. Many have a preference for damp shady conditions, but there are some, such as bracken, which will grow like a weed out in the open. They range in size from the tiny Hymenophyllum lyallii whose filmy frond is only 2-3 cm across and could be mistaken for a liverwort, to the large tree ferns such as Cyathea medullaris which can be up to 20m tall.

Scientifically, ferns are known as Pteridophytes. They reproduce by spores, and you can often find these on a fern plant, either as little brown dots underneath or at the edges of fronds, or in some cases, on a whole spore-bearing frond.

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