Ferns must live in moist environments because their reproductive processes are dependent on water. Ferns are seedless, vascular plants and spore-producing specimens that are important to woodland and wetland environments.
Living ferns primarily belong to the polypody family, and they are recognizable by their triangular leaves divided into much smaller leaflets. The primary phase of a fern's life cycle occurs when it is a sporophyte. At this phase, the fern consists of large compound leaves, or fronds. The fronds of the fern serve dual purposes; they conduct photosynthesis and contain reproductive organs. These organs release spores that need a wet surface to swim on to merge with spores of the opposite sex and reproduce.