Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains
Vascular Cryptogams, Ferns and Fern Allies
Perennial herbs with a life cycle featuring an alternation of two distinct
generations -- the sporophyte and the gametophyte. Sporophyte the dominant
phase, diploid, typically differentiated into vascularized roots, stems and
leaves, producing unicellular, haploid spores by meiosis, the spores produced
in sporangia which may be grouped in sori on modified or unmodified leaves,
or the sporangia borne in terminal cones (Equisetum), spikes (Ophioglossum)
inside axillary sporocarps (Marsilea and Azolla), or inside the leaf
bases (Isoetes). Sporophyte plants may produce spores of all one
type (plants homosporous) or of 2 morphologically dissimilar types (plants heterosporous),
small microspores and larger megaspores. Spores germinating in soil or
water to produce the minute, inconspicuous sexual phase, the gametophyte. Gametophyte
(termed a prothallium) photosynthetic or achlorophyllous; gametophytes of homosporous
species similar, monoecious or dioecious, those of heterosporous species dissimilar,
dioecious, each microspore producing a male gametophyte, each megaspore producing
a female gametophyte. Sex organs developing on the gametophytes; antheridia
producing numerous motile spermatozoids; archegonia each containing an egg cell.
Fertilization achieved by impregnation of an egg by a spermatozoid, subsequent
growth from the fertilized egg resulting in development of the dominant sporophyte
Pelvit, J. and W. T. Barker. 1975. North Dakota ferns and fern allies. Tri-
College Center for Environmental Studies Publ. Ser. 1:1-24.
Petrick-Ott, A. J. 1974. A county checklist of the ferns and fern allies of
Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Rhodora 77:478-511.
Tryon, R. M. 1954. The ferns and fern allies of Minnesota. Univ. of Minnesota
Previous Section -- Key to Taxa of Aquatic and Wetland
Return to Contents
Next Section -- Equisetum L.