Pteridophytes (including ferns and lycophytes) are one of the oldest groups of plants on Earth, with a fossil record dating back 420 million years. Unlike seed plants, they reproduce by releasing tiny, dust-like spores, so they completely lack flowers, fruits, and seeds. Now you can join NYBG’s latest virtual crowdsourcing expedition to help scientists transcribe pteridophyte specimens from Mexico and contribute to continued research and conservation of these amazing plants.


Of the nearly 11,000 species of ferns in the world, about one-tenth occur in Mexico, including tree ferns with trunks 15 m tall and floating ferns with leaves only 1 mm long. NYBG’s Herbarium houses the most outstanding collection of Mexican fern specimens outside of Mexico, assembled over the past 45 years by Dr. John T. Mickel (retired), who made Mexican ferns the focus of his career.  In 2004, he published his magnum opus, The Pteridophytes of Mexico with his colleague and former student Alan R. Smith (University of California, Berkeley). This 1004-page book is based largely on NYBG’s specimens, which are now being fully-digitized as part of a National Science Foundation funded grant (award 1802305), with support from citizen scientists around the planet.

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