When we fix our fernery (a special greenhouse that is perfect for ferns to live in) we will need to take all the plants out of it. Before we do this we need to make sure we know exactly what we have inside it, so that we can put the right things back. We call this a plant audit.

When we were auditing this fernery our gardeners found something very special. The orange marks in the picture above are called sori. Sori are structures that contain spores.

Ferns are not like flowering plants. Ferns don’t have seeds, they have spores instead. These very tiny structures that look like powder are released into the air. When they land they start to grow into something called a gametophyte. This is a plant that has eggs and sperm but doesn’t make spores. The Gametophyte is very small and you might never even notice it.

For these plants to grow into the ferns you probably recognise they need it to be humid (which means there is lots of water in the air and ground). If the conditions are right, sperm will find an egg and the plant will turn into something called a sporophyte. The sporophyte will make sori and the cycle will start all over again.

One of our gardeners auditing the ferns.