Here are photos and descriptions of some of the crown jewels of the fern world.

Most of these are suitable for cultivation as designated in the text, but a few are "for admiration only" and these too are noted. The majority of the photos were taken by me, with many from my garden where the opportunities, often with a brief window of interesting or dramatic light or special seasonal situations, lend themselves to an instant response with camera in hand. Others were taken in native habitats or gardens throughout the world. A number of friends (see acknowledgments) have kindly contributed photos as well, expanding on the scope and variety of the illustrations. Both the sites and photographers are credited.

The bright colors of flowers are admired by the least intellectual, but the beauty of form and textures of ferns requires a higher degree of mental perception and more intellect for its proper appreciations.

—Abraham Stansfield, in a nursery catalog, 1858

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