These pictures show one of many varieties of fern in the tropical rainforest known as The Daintree, in Far North Queensland, Australia. I don’t know the specific name of it but I know it is possible to tell one species from another by (partly) looking at the distribution pattern of the spore-producing bodies (sporangia) on the undersides of the pinnules (leaflets) on the fronds (the equivalent of leaves in seed-producing plants). Ferns don’t have seeds or fruits. Instead, they propagate by releasing microscopic spores from the sporangia which are themselves arranged in groups called sori. The ripening sori are easy to see as rust coloured dots, circles or horse-shoe shapes against the bright green of the pinnule.
Ferns love the moist conditions of the rainforest undergrowth. In The Daintree, which is in the area of Australia receiving the most rainfall, there are over 250 species of fern – 20 percent of which grow exclusively in that region. They range in size from tiny to huge – and include towering ancient tree ferns with the fronds growing from a tall trunk.
Ramsey, Damon (2008) Ecosystem Guides: Rainforest of Tropical Australia, 2nd Edition, Yes Printing, Sydney, Australia, ISBN 978-0-9757470-4-9.
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