Left and Upper Right Photo Credits: Jessica Weinberg, NPS
Lower Right Photo Credit: Mason Cummings, NPS

When most people think of ferns, they think of large feathery fronds growing in among the damp leaf litter on the floor of a shady forest. In truth, ferns come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and can be found everywhere from open water to deserts on every continent of the world except Antarctica. Ferns first appear in the fossil record about 300 million years ago. With about 12,000 species, they are by far the largest group of seedless vascular plants. Vascular plants have stems, roots, leaves, and vascular systems that transport water, and food. Unlike many other vascular plants, ferns do not have seeds or flowers but instead reproduce through spores.

Point Reyes is home to 13 species of ferns including the five-finger fern, California maiden-hair, wood fern, and bracken. At Pinnacles ferns live in both the wet and very dry parts of the park.