Ever wonder where you could find fern spores for sale? You ever heard of a spore exchange? Ever wonder where to find the best spore exchange? Ever wonder what the hell a spore exchange is? How about what a fern spore even is? Spore exchanges are places where individuals can go to trade, sell, or donate fern spores to encourage to propagation of a particular types of ferns. The different fern clubs or societies set up most of them because they are trying to preserve particular species or just get people to plant different kinds of ferns in different areas. Access to these exchanges range from members only to open ones with varying costs. Below I put together a chart of all of the spore exchanges we could find on the web. Each name has the URL associated with it, the cost per spore to receive a sample, whether you need a membership or not, and my opinion on the quality of the selection.
What is a spore exchange?
So like I said spore exchanges are set up by people who want to encourage the growth of ferns around the world. I would say that some do it to make money but I doubt there is that much money in fern spores. I mean really I doubt that gets too many search hits on google every day. One factor that might be an ulterior motive is the membership requirement by many of the larger fern societies. If you want access to large exchanges like Hardy Ferns’ or the American Fern Society you have to become a member. They obviously want people to become members so I am sure they like it when someone signs up. Ultimately, though it really does seem to be the love of the plant.
How do they work?
We are not talking high tech here. Most of the societies’ fern exchanges are not very advanced at all. Quite a few of them make you email a separate unaffiliated email address or even worse fill out a form and then send in a check. A form, really? I cannot think they have much volume but hey, they do the trick. Several of the exchanges are actually stores and those sites are usually more advanced (and expensive). They usually have a shopping cart feature and you just click on what you want, pay online, and it shows up at the house eventually.
Why we need them?
We need spore exchanges because ferns don’t propagate like other plants. Remember I told you that ferns are really old. Well they are so old the Earth they evolved in looked different from today. It was obviously hotter and wetter than today, hence the whole liking of hot wet environments by ferns. A world where there is moisture everywhere and with a perfect temperature makes for plants that don’t need to evolve tough gametes. Seed plants evolved in an environment that was a little tougher. In fact, seeds are what comes after the reproduction cycle if you think about it while spores are still in the middle of the process. Seeds can handle more extremes because they are further along in the process and therefore can develop a protective shell. Gametes need to “get out and mingle” if I may. All this is just to say that unless groups like HFF or AFS have these exchanges set up many fern strains would continue to decline because their delicate ecosystems are shrinking and they are sensitive plants as is.
|Name & Website Link||Cost||Membership required||Selection Quality|
|Hardy Fern Foundation||50 cent per spore||Y||Good|
|American Fern Society||50 cent per spore||Y (although members can buy for a higher price||Extensive|
|The British Pteridological Society||Free||Y||Good|
|Los Angeles International Fern Society||50 cents per spore||N||Small but good|
|J. L. Hudson Seedsman||$2-5 plus shipping||N||Good but they also have a ton of non fern seeds|
|Chilean Flora||Expensive||N||Not a ton of ferns but a wide variety of plants|
|Trebrown Nursery||Moderate||N||They have 8|
|Rare Palm Speeds||Expensive||N||More of just a store|
Collecting Fern Spores
Kind of like Wikipedia if you don’t give eventually a good spore exchange will run out of material. If you are going to provide an exchange with some spores from your plants you need to do a few things to make a good collection. Collecting fern spores is much like collecting any other kind of plant spore. There are a few items that you need to remember when doing it:
- Collect Enough 15 cubic millimeters of actual spores would be a minimum
- Take a few pictures it helps them identify the plant and ferns love selfies.
- Make sure the fern is ripe ripe sori have sporangia (tiny bubbles) that are fully developed but have not released yet
- Collect the easy way
- For ferns like the staghorn fern use a butter knife to scratch of the spores from the underside of the leaf
- For others like the Australian tree fern or a Blechnum Orientale you can just leave the frond on a piece of paper overnight
- When In Doubt Send It if you think a fern is too common or ordinary to donate, it might be just what a beginner, researcher, or someone in another area is looking for.
- Don’t Use Wax Paper it can kill the spores
If you need more detailed and step by step directions for collecting spores check out these two sites:
Or just watch this guy’s pretty good overview of collection from various types of ferns: