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Ferns evolved early in the development of land-based plants. They reproduce by means of spores produced on their fronds, which at one stage of their development had to swim in a film of water. This ties ferns to habitats that are wet for at least part of the year, although some species (such as bracken) rely on vegetative reproduction to succeed (sometimes too well!) in dry habitats as well.

The arrival of the seed, and of the flower that carries it, left ferns behind in the evolutionary race.

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