Ferns are seedless, vascular plants that reproduce by spores instead of seeds; they produce only one type of spore that develops into a bisexual gametophyte—giving these seedless plants the name homosporous. Their sporophytes are large, dominant, and nutritionally independent. They include the ferns of the genus Pterophyta, the largest group; the whisk ferns of the genus Psilophyta; the club mosses of the genus Lycophyta; and the horsetails of the genus Arthrophyta. These plants have leaves, roots, cuticles, stomata, specialized stems, conducting tissues, and, in most cases, seeds.
Tree ferns like these in Southland, New Zealand, evoke a sense of a primitive forest from the Cretaceous Period.