Texas has a surprising number of native ferns and lycophytes, 127 in all, the most of any state in the continental U.S. This is particularly unexpected given that most people associate ferns and related plants with humid, even tropical conditions, just the opposite of much of Texas.
Texas’ diverse species thrive under a variety of conditions including some that are very extreme—in crevices on huge exposed granite outcrops, underwater on the bottoms of ponds or lakes, inside cave entrances, and in the deserts of west Texas. One Texas species has leaves reaching nearly 13 feet in length, while another is a tiny floating aquatic often less than 1/2 inch in total size. Many Texas species occur nowhere else in the entire United States.
This talk will look broadly at Texas ferns, ranging from the swamp forests of East Texas, to the hidden canyons of the Edwards Plateau, and even to the high mountain “sky islands” of such places as Big Bend National Park. It will examine why Texas is such a special place for these fascinating plants.