Ferns & Horsetails

Along with the club mosses, ferns and horsetails are part of a group called Pteridophytes. This group includes all vascular plants that reproduce through spores, rather than seeds.

Ferns and horsetails stand apart from club mosses by their leaves. While clubmosses have simple leaves with just one vein (called “microphylls”), ferns and horsetails have true, complex leaves with multiple veins (“megaphylls”), which often have elaborate shapes.

There are over 11,000 species of ferns worldwide, ranging from tiny epiphytes that live clinging onto rocks to 10 ft tall tree ferns. Although they are most abundant in tropical rainforests, they can be found all over the world, from deserts to mountaintops.

Photo Galleries

View examples of this plant family in the gallery below, or go to the Pteridophytes' families listings at the bottom of the page to access our database of specific plants.