“Fiddle-dee-dee! War, war, war; this war talk’s spoiling all the fun at every party this spring…” Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind…
Ferns first appear in the fossil record 360 million years ago in the late Devonian period but many of the current families and species did not appear until roughly 145 million years ago
in the early Cretaceous, after flowering plants came to dominate many environments. The fern Osmunda claytoniana is a paramount example of evolutionary stasis.
Paleontological evidence indicates it has remained unchanged, even at the level of fossilized nuclei and chromosomes, for at least 180 million years.
Most ferns have what are called fiddleheads that expand into fronds, which are each delicately divided.