The Fern Lover's Companion

A Guide for the Northeastern States and Canada

BY

GEORGE HENRY TILTON, A.M.

Ferns are also reproduced by spores, a process mysterious and marvellous as a fairy tale. Instead of seeds the fern produces spores, which are little one-celled bodies without an embryo and may be likened to buds. A spore falls upon damp soil and germinates, producing a small, green, shield-shaped patch much smaller than a dime, which is called a prothßllium (or prothallus). On its under surface delicate root hairs grow to give it stability and nutriment; also two sorts of reproductive organs known as antherÝdia and archeg˛nia, the male and female growths analogous to the stamens and pistils in flowers. From the former spring small, active, spiral bodies called ßntheroz˛ids, which lash about in the moisture of the prothßllium until they find the archeg˛nia, the cells of which are so arranged in each case as to form a tube around the central cell, which is called the ˛÷sphere, or egg-cell, the point to be fertilized. When one of the entering ßntheroz˛ids reaches this point the desired change is effected, and the canal of the archeg˛nium closes. The empty ˛÷sphere becomes the quickened ˛÷sphore whose newly begotten plant germ unfolds normally by the multiplication of cells that become, in turn, root, stem, first leaf, etc., while the prothßllium no longer needed to sustain its offspring ...........................................................

 

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