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A Natural History of Ferns

A Natural History of Ferns
Robbin C. Moran
Timber Press
Publication Date: 

hardcover, 301 p., $29.95

Ferns are fascinating plants. They have no seeds, yet have been around for millions of years; fossils of extinct related plants from the late Carboniferous to the Permian period prove that they existed more than 225 million years ago. Botanist Robbin C. Moran, a recognized authority on the subject, has compiled a series of his fascinating essays in this book on ferns and club mosses, those plants with vascular tissue that also reproduce by spores. A great storyteller and world traveler, the author relates his personal experiences and those of others as he discusses, in a captivating literary style, the general topics of the life cycle of ferns, their classification, ancient fern fossils, and plant adaptation. He then explores their geography and unusual uses by people.

The author’s ability to make botanical information interesting to every reader is remarkable, and his knowledge of the subject is very broad. In the introduction to the fern life cycle, he calls upon the classic words of a Shakespeare comedy to express the mystery surrounding fern reproduction. When it comes to describing the intricacies of plant nomenclature, he uses the script from a movie comedy, A New Leaf, in his explanation. Nicely illustrated with line drawings and some color photographs, this text certainly makes learning an enjoyable experience.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden