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Fern Fever!

While rain and wind are raging outside, cookies are baking in the oven, and a cup of tea is at hand, I think it’s the perfect morning for some nature history. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short!
(Oh my, I think I start to sound like a grandma! But even young people have their own “inner-grandma”, right?)

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How do you feel about ferns? They do have their own special kind of charm, don’t you think? Let me tell you something about them!

These primitive plants have existed for hundreds of millions of years and have barely changed. Apparently they know perfectly well what the best adaptations to certain climates are. So should we call them primitive, or is highly advanced a better term?

Anyhow, I think it’s save to say they are pretty cool, right? British women in the 19th century definitely thought so! There was a real hype around these ferns back then, which got the term “fern fever” or “pteridomania”.

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This craze went further than only creating gardens full of ferns. In fact, ferns were depicted almost everywhere! On curtains, tableware, sculptures, anything you can think of. As Boyd said in 1993, ferns were “appearing on everything from christening presents to gravestones and memorials”.

Part of the excitement came from the mystery of ferns. Other plants had been studied a lot, but ferns were a lot less well known. Also their naturally flat form was ideal for the purpose of decoration. You could just glue them to a surface or embed them between two flat layers of, for example, glass.

Some species were in danger of getting extinct and a couple of collectors lost their lives in the persuit, but thousands of women found immense joy in this hype. Compared to hypes nowadays, I don’t think this one was so bad. After all, it contributed to our species knowledge and got a lot of people interested in nature!

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You see, history can be quite interesting, don’t you think?

So, does anybody want a cookie?

 

 

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