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Ferns, moss and Lichen


ferns are one of the oldest plants in the world they appeared about 350 million years ago and 200 million years before flowering plants emerged.

Ferns were once an endangered plant in Scotland and other parts of Europe which is hard to believe if you go for walks in nature as it is found pretty much everywhere. It was even given protective status in Scotland.

The reason for this is because ferns were an important ingredients in making glass, the ferns were burnt and added to the the making process of glass this would give the glass a green tint which was very popular and because of this bracken was burnt in mass to help fund the supply to the glass making industry. Modern glass industry now uses sand to make glass so they no longer need burnt fern so it's numbers exploded again to be seen everywhere and of course it is no longer a protective plant.

Ferns can reproduce in 2 ways if its growing in an area where there may be environmental pressures the bracken will spread its spores from capsules called sporangia, the other way is by sprouting new coiled new leaves called croziers when older ones die off. By producing croziers the bracken can hypothetical live for ever so bracken that was growing millions of years ago could still be alive today.


Lichen appeared about 250 million years ago and come in 3 groups

Foliose which resemble leaves

Crustose which resemble small specks

Fruticose which resemble small coral structure

Lichen are a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi, the algae can photosynthesis and produce the food for the fungi and the fungi is the home structure to the algae although lichen is one of the most studied organisms the exact role in the relationship the fungi plays is still up for debate.

Lichen grows on tree trunks and rocks they do absorb some nutrients from rocks but get the majority of their nutrients from the algae, it's believed that the lichen do not get any nutrients from the trees that they grow on.


Moss are the oldest plants in the world, first algae moved onto land and then moss evolved about 400 million years ago and is found all over the world and are very successful plants they owe a lot of their success by growing fast and most animals don't eat it as it's hard to digest and provides little nutrients. One animal that does eat it are reindeer as special chemicals are found in the moss that help keep the reindeer warm during the winter months.

Moss have also been used by people, during the first world war moss was used to bandage up wounds due to it having natural antiseptic and being absorbent and because of this it was also used as nappies before modern one were invented.

Moss don't have roots but act like sponges getting a lot of their water and nutrients from the air but will also get nutrients for the rocks they grow on.

Moss will break down rocks by releasing minerals into the ground these rocks will breakdown 60% faster compared to bare rocks that are broken down by natural erosion

Ferns, lichen and moss are found pretty much in every environment such as tropical, temperate and even in the arctic

Thanks for reading

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