Unlike trees, ferns are simple: to appearances, all of it is made from the same green stuff that somehow knows how to branch off of the main stem—but without all the cool ‘technology’ that leaves have on trees (no stems, no dropping of leaves, etc.)
This is the front of a fern frond, maybe 2” of it near the tip. It has branching, without branches. It has leaves, without really being leaves. Very orderly.
Above we have the back of the fern frond, which is suddenly much more interesting. This view is much more magnified than the front view, so that I could record the spores by which fern reproduce (not seeds). I would expect a more primitive plant to have a simplified reproductive cycle, but the fern life cycle is anything but simple. The spores germinate and mature into an intermediate form, called a prothalli. I have not paid enough attention to see those, despite a lifelong curiosity about ferns. I love the shapes they make, graceful and complex while still also quite simple and formal.
Here is a detail of a spore cluster:
So much complexity in such a simple plant!
Here is a very short video of my current motorized macro setup, to which I recently added flash. It’s a very efficient way to take the dozens or hundreds of photos required for macro photography.
I love ferns and they are not common in Dry Ellensburg. They are amazing in their diverse forms. Great photos of those spores!