Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

A Natural History of Ferns

By Robbin C. Moran

Foreword by Oliver Sacks

A joy to read, this book features science writing that goes beyond description, revealing patterns and mechanisms — the essence of natural history.

Choice

A Natural History of Ferns is an entertaining and informative look at why ferns and their relatives are unique among plants. Ferns live in habitats from the tropics to polar latitudes, and unlike seed plants, which endow each seed with the resources to help their offspring, ferns reproduce by minute spores. There are floating ferns, ferns that climb or live on trees, and ferns that are trees. There are poisonous ferns, iridescent ferns, and resurrection ferns that survive desert heat and drought. The relations of ferns and people are equally varied. Moran sheds light on Robinson Crusoe's ferns, the role of ferns in movies, and how ferns get their names. A Natural History of Ferns provides just what is needed for those who wish to grow ferns or observe them in their habitats with greater understanding and appreciation.

Awards for this book: Garden Writers Association Silver Award

Media reviews

"These masterfully written tales and the solid science behind them make this a terrific book for fern enthusiasts or anyone interested in our natural world."

—Darrel Trout, American Gardener

"The author has presented his topics with a fresh approach, so that even seasoned fern-lovers will see events from new vantage points."

—Barbara Joe Hoshizaki, Pacific Horticulture

"This book is like nothing else on the subject. First, it's not a field guide. ... Secondly, it's fun to read."

—Lili Singer, Los Angeles Times

"In this volume [Moran] takes his reader on a delightful pteridological journey which includes time travel back to remote geological ages, long distance travel to various points, especially to his beloved South America, and exploration in the library and laboratory."

—Catharine W. Guiles, Northeastern Naturalist

"I really enjoyed this book and would recommend that anyone with an interest in plants read it. (Moran's) interest and passion for the scientific study of pteridophytes comes out as he conveys vast knowledge of this fascinating group of plants."

—Courtney C. Finch, Plant Science Bulletin

"A scholarly but charming book of essays on what ferns do in nature."

—Marge Hols, St. Paul Pioneer Press

"This book, which is well illustrated with photos, drawings and maps, will answer the questions about ferns you would never think to ask."

—David Papayanopulos, Gardener's Gazette

"The structure of the book, a series of essays, allows Mr. Moran to make full use of his ability to render understandable the complexities of nature and to draw in the reader as a storyteller does."

—Sonja Nelson, American Rhododendron Society Journal

"Robbin Morran's captivating style made this collection an excellent read and an easy introduction to various aspects of pteridophytes. However, it is also a scholarly work, and is an excellent source of information on ferns and their natural history."

—Adolf Ceska, Botanical Electronic Network

"A Natural History of Ferns is not an encyclopedia or a systematic presentation of fern genera and species. It is a collection of engaging essays by Moran, curator of ferns at the New York Botanical Garden. He has certainly changed the way I look at this most ancient flower-free plant family."

—Maureen Gilmer, Scripps Howard News Service

"I could not find a dull sentence or a wasted word in Robbin Moran's A Natural History of Ferns. Read this excellent book and you will be left in no doubt that the world's 14,000 ferns, horsetails, quillworts and clubmosses are dynamic, important and interesting modern plants with much to teach us."

—Peter Edwards, New Scientist

"Educators need this book."

—Peter Bernhardt, Plant Talk

"Here is an author who plainly delights in his subject and one needn't be a fern aficionado to share his enthusiasm."

—Marge Howard-Jones, California Garden

"Robin Moran writes in such an easy and interesting style, taking the reader from observations and personal reminiscences into facts and back again with such ease that science becomes part of the story and the story becomes part of the scientific understanding."

—Barry A. Thomas, Fern Gazette

"Most gardeners suspect that there is something very complex about ferns, but few of us have the chance to delve into their mysteries. Robbin Moran's book makes their magic accessible in all its strange detail."

—Marty Ross, Horticulture

"A joy to read, this book features science writing that goes beyond description, revealing patterns and mechanisms–the essence of natural history."

—L. G. Kavaljian, Choice

"Cutting-edge science so well written that each chapter is like a short story with a fern or ferns as its protagonist."

—Christine Arpe Gang, Memphis Commercial Appeal

"A great book ... Oliver Sacks, the author of the book's forward, compares Moran's writing to that of Stephen Jay Gould. Having read some of Gould's work, I agree with his assessment. If you like Gould, you will like this book. If you don't like Gould, you will still like A Natural History of Ferns. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to reading Moran's book."

—Thomas F. Vining, Delta Institute of Natural History

"Written in an engaging, humorous style."

—Frank Lang, Kalmiopsis

"This book is not a Field Guide to ferns, but rather a series of fascinating scientific tales, written in a style that educates the lay person as well as the scientific community."

—Madeleine Wilde, Kirkland Courier

"If ... your social life finds you surrounded by legions of people with a fascination for ferns, you will definitely want to quote tidbits from A Natural History of Ferns."

—Patricia A. Taylor, Trenton Times

"The writing is such that even a beginner can come to understand this great green family of plants. He has certainly changed the way I look at this most ancient, flower-free plant family."

—Maureen Gilmer, Cincinnati Post

"This is science writing at its best."

—Peter Edwards, New Scientist

"I learned in botany classes that ferns reproduce by spores, but I never really understood what makes a spore so different from a seed until I read A Natural History of Ferns."

—Maureen Gilmer, Columbus Dispatch

"An intelligent introduction to ferns for the enjoyment of both the amateur enthusiast and the professional pteridologist."

—Frank McGavigan, Pteridologist

"Here is science writing at its best; one simply must have this book."

—Tom Stuart, Hardy Fern Foundation Quarterly

"It is amazing that a book so rich in biological data can be such a good read! Robbin Moran ... is to be congratulated on another superlative job!"

—George Yatskievych, Fiddlehead Forum

"A concise and elegantly rendered treasure trove of fern and biology lore."

Missouri Botanical Garden Bulletin

"It is amazing that a book so rich in biological data can be such a good read! Robbin Moran ... is to be congratulated on another superlative job!"

—George Yatskievych, Fiddlehead Forum

About the author

Robbin C. Moran

Robbin C. Moran is curator of ferns at the New York Botanical Garden. He is the author or coauthor of many papers and four books about ferns, including two published by Timber Press.

Read more about Robbin C. Moran

View large jacket image

This book is print-on-demand

It cannot be ordered from TimberPress.com. However, you can buy it from other online retailers:


Similar books