Discovering diversity

Australia is home to more than 25,000 plant species. Many of these are adapted to extreme environments and do not occur anywhere else. Ferns are one plant group that demonstrates this amazing diversity. Around 450 fern species can be found thriving in a range of Australian habitats; from deserts to rainforests, swamps to dry woodlands. Ferns can cope with very poor soil, and some even grow clinging to tree trunks or cliffs.

Desert ferns

Some fern species are adapted to live in deserts. They have scaly or hairy stems that trap a layer of humid air, reducing water-loss. Some are ‘resurrection plants’ - curling up in dry periods and re-sprouting after rain.