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Fern Symbolism (Top 6 Meanings)

Fern Symbolism (Top 6 Meanings)

The fern plant has played an important role in various cultures and religions around the world for centuries. Modern science tells us that this plant has likely been around for more than 400 million years [1]. This means it predates dinosaurs!

This is a testament to their resilience and how well ferns can adapt to their surroundings. 

Ferns are some of the most common plant species around the world. They are found on all continents, though you’ll find more diversity in tropical regions. This tough little plant can also be found in deserts and the Antarctic. 

Even today, the fern is used as a symbol in many different contexts. In this article, we will explore what it symbolizes. 

The Fern plant symbolizes vision, reproductivity, invisibility, wealth, good fortune, light, guidance, love, and prosperity.

1. Vision

Fern plants and their seeds have often been associated with vision [2]. This includes physical vision through the eyes and mental vision in terms of thinking long-term and having insights about the future. 

Green fern plant.
Photo by Sebastian Sørensen

In European medicine, as recently as the 18th century, there is evidence of formal medical practices that used the leaves of the fern plant together with egg whites to create a topical ointment to heal redness of the eyes and short-term blindness. This ointment was applied to the eyebrows and the face and allowed to sit for a few hours. 

Since these plants don’t have visible seeds, it was believed that their seeds had magical powers specifically related to seeing the future. It was a common belief that finding the seeds could unlock the secrets of the future. 

Today, this belief is more spiritual than literal. Ferns symbolize clarity – it is said that the appearance of the fern signifies that one is about to gain some insight that will guide them toward their future or see things clearly.

2. Reproductivity 

Until recently, how ferns reproduced was a mystery. Modern science uncovered that these plants use spores to spread and reproduce, which is why there aren’t any visible seeds. 

However, this aspect of the plant fascinated people of the past, and they often associated magical powers of fertility with it. 

A fern plant doesn’t need a male or female counterpart. Rather a single plant can continue the species as it is able to perform the roles of both genders. In the past, its leaves were associated with fertility and were often given to brides or became part of their marriage outfit to induce the fertility powers of the plant. 

Similarly, parents who were unsuccessful in having children would often try to get a fern plant or parts of it to place in their house or plant in their gardens in the hopes that it would improve their luck in having children. 

The fern continues to symbolize fertility today and is often given as a gift to a loved one who’s about to “produce” something – be it someone trying to conceive a child, start a business, or a relationship.

3. Invisibility 

The lack of seeds on the fern plant led many to think that it had the power of invisibility. Some people thought that the plant could make its seeds invisible, while others thought that they themselves were inherently invisible – and if you were able to get one of these seeds, you could also become invisible. 

Green fern.
Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay

Another myth was that the seeds of the plant were hidden inside it. People thought that if they could find these hidden and possibly invisible seeds, they would be able to uncover the hidden secrets of the physical world they existed in. 

Several plays and written stories from Europe during the 18th century talked about ferns and their ability to provide invisibility. To this day, they represent that same kind of privacy, which is why they are usually placed in offices and homes – implying peace

4. Wealth and Good Fortune 

Since no one had ever seen the seeds of a fern and how it reproduced was a big mystery, it was believed that whoever was able to get this magical seed would enjoy incredible fortune. [3] 

In Baltic cultures, it was believed that the flower of the fern plant only bloomed once a year, at midnight, on either St. John’s Eve or during the summer solstice. Whoever was able to get this seed on that particular night would earn rewards and riches beyond their imagination. 

Similarly, during the medieval era, English folklore talked about how the flower of this plant would appear at midnight atop a stack of twelve pewter plates. Inside the flower, you would find the golden fern seed. Again, finding the seed was associated with finding incredible wealth

In some versions of the story, the flower was red and apparently so bright that it would light up the entire forest. However, finding the seed within the red flower yielded the same results. You would earn material wealth. 

So, it may be a good time to add a fern to your home garden and gain some of that good fortune!

5. Light and Guidance 

For the Maori tribe of New Zealand, the fern is a particularly important and highly respected plant. It has been associated with strength and endurance due to the tough conditions in which it grows effortlessly and as a source of light and guidance. 

The Maoris focus on the silver fern in particular. This species of fern tends to glow and give off a shimmery kind of light at night as it reflects the light from the moon and the stars. This made the silver fern a natural road lamp and was highly revered for this feature by the Maoris. 

New Zealand Silver fern.
New Zealand Silver Fern
Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

To this day, the silver fern is the national plant of New Zealand and is depicted in many of their things, such as their flag, and embossed on the clothes of their professional athletes. 

Its ability to give light at night has also been considered its protective feature. According to folklore, it can ward off evil spirits and even confuses dark magic spells. It is also believed that the fern plants have the ability to bring rain and end seasons of drought. 

Having the fern around the house is a form of protection from physical and metaphysical threats. 

6. Love and Prosperity 

The fern has, in many ways, been related to good fortune, wealth, protection, and guidance. All these things have led people to believe that it brings about happiness, love, and prosperity. It is said to be a symbol of a loving and strong environment, which is why so many societies praise its existence. 


Today, many things that were earlier believed about the fern don’t prevail anymore with such intensity, but the plant still holds a vital place in culture. 

People still have great respect for it, and its spiritual meaning remains prevalent in popular culture. It is a fan-favorite houseplant popular in horticulture due to its unique leaf structure and overall shape. 

Given that it can be found worldwide and represents growth and success in so many ways, it’s no wonder people still fawn over ferns today!