Dave Cheetham (June)
This intricate small fern is not as delicate as it looks. Parsley Fern (Cryptogramma crispa)
thrives in the cold wet conditions of Cwm Idwall, where this photo was taken yesterday.
Ferns belong to an ancient group of plants that developed long before flowering plants even existed. They do not produce flowers or seeds. Instead, ferns reproduce by means of dust-like spores, produced in capsules called sori on the underside of the frond (fern leaf).
When the spores are ripe, they are released from the sori and are spread either on the breeze or by anything that brushes past them.
On landing in damp conditions, the dust-like spores germinate, developing into an organism called a prothallus. This produces both male and female reproductive parts. The male cells swim to the female cells, creating a fertilised egg or embryo fern which in time develops into a beautiful fern like this one.