Collections Data - Ferns and Lycopods

Ferns and lycopods were once a principal component of terrestrial ecosystems dominating the Carboniferous landscape and are of great evolutionary significance. Pteridophytes remain of great ecological significance and form the dominant and most conspicuous part of the vegetation in many ecosystems throughout the world. Some are significant weeds and agricultural pests. The well known bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn), produces arsenic-based compounds toxic to cattle and forms large aggressively spreading colonies. Many ferns are well known as ornamental plants and play an important role in many cultures throughout the world.

The Field Museum of Natural History has over 110,000 fern and lycopod specimens. Approximately 60,000 fern herbarium sheets have been imaged and databased from the Americas. Databasing and digital imaging has been accomplished through the generous support of the Grainger Foundation and The Institute of Museum and Library Services (Award No. 30-13-0544-13).

You can learn more about the ferns and the the fern collection here. For information about the collections and their background, visit the descriptions of the bryophyte collections of the Field Museum.

For loans or special requests, corrections, locality inquiries/coordinates, identification verifications, specimen photographs, or suggestions, please email Matt von Konrat at mvonkonrat(at)

For copyright, data usage and citation information please refer to the Field Museum Data Norms and Considerations.