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Ferns are a large group of plants. There are several thousand types of ferns and they are found throughout the world. They are mostly found in tropical rain forests.
Ferns do not have true leaves as many plants do, but structures called fronds. These fronds are split down into leaflets called pinnae. These fronds are green and the fern gets its food via photosynthesis.
Ferns reproduce by spores in an alternating generations. The fern itself is the sporophyte, which produces asexual spores. The spores are held in special sacs scattered on the bottom part of fronds. These sacs look like specks of dirt. Today no ferns have seeds but ferns of early times seem to be precursors to today's seeded plants and trees.
Ferns are used for decorations and tree ferns in the tropics for buildings. However, much of today's coal is the result of the decay of ancient ferns which were the major plant forms at that time.
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