Skip to Content

The Amazing Symbolism of Ferns – A Guide to Their Meaning

The Amazing Symbolism of Ferns – A Guide to Their Meaning

The fern is a pretty amazing plant, and there are many myths and mysteries surrounding this beautiful plant.

The plant name “fern” comes from the Anglo-Saxon term, “fearn”, which means feather.

The name describes the shape and pattern of fern leaves.

This is one of the oldest plants on the planet, dating back 400 million years.

We know this because many fern fossils have been discovered in various parts of the world. In fact, some fossils show that the fern was around during the days of the dinosaurs.

Today we are going to take a look at the amazing fern symbolism and history.

You will learn about ferns in dreams, what ferns symbolize, and much more.

Let's get started.

A Little Fern History

Ferns have evolved greatly over the centuries.

The fern was originally a water plant, but now there are many varieties that grow on land. Many people keep ferns as houseplants.

You will find over 40,000 fern species throughout the world.

It is a plant that is very popular for indoor decorations as well as outdoor landscaping.

This is a plant that can survive in a variety of conditions, particularly damp locations.

They are found in tropical and temperate climates, and are easily able to grow and thrive on rocks or soil.

There are even certain types of fern, such as the Ostrich fern, that can be used in holistic healing.

Ferns are also used to teach genetics because they have such an interesting reproductive process.

Most plants grow from seeds. Ferns are different. The sexual reproduction of the fern starts with spores that grow from the bottom sides of the leaves upon reaching maturity.

Ferns have male and female cells, and can reproduce on its own.

The Spiritual Meaning of Ferns

Spiritual meaning of ferns

Ferns have spiritual meanings in a variety of religions and cultures.

For instance, those who practice witchcraft have used the fern for centuries as a symbol of spiritual protection.

It is also used to bring about wealth, fortune, and luck.

Some cultures have used the fern for mental and emotional healing, as well as in rainmaking ceremonies.

And some species of ferns have even been used in the creation of love potions.

For instance, the maidenhair fern has been used to create secret bonds of love. It has also been used to help some couples be discretionary, such as when having affairs.

In Victorian England, the fern was a symbol of magic, fascination, confidence, and shelter. Ferns could be used to pass messages from a secret admirer.

If one admired another's beauty, they might give them a gift. That gift could be a fern itself, or something that is wrapped in fern leaves.

Today, ferns are used in the treatment of a variety of health conditions. In particular, oil extracts from the fern are used to treat some mental conditions.

The oil is even used by modern-day exorcists when trying to help those who are “possessed.”

RELATED: When It Rains, It Pours: The Surprising Symbolism Of Rain

Fern Symbolism

Throughout the centuries, the fern has been seen as symbolic of many things, including longevity, love, growth, change, and much more.

Let's take a deeper look into the symbolism surrounding the fern.

The Fern as a Symbol of Longevity, Rebirth, & Renewal

Because the fern has been around for millions of years, it only stands to reason that it is a symbol of longevity, rebirth, and renewal.

In fact, the fern can be used as a study of life, death, and rebirth in the natural world. The leaves die each year, and regrow in the spring.

The fern shows us that no matter how badly things may go in our lives, there is always hope that things will get better.

The Fern as a Symbol of Love and Happiness

The Fern as a symbol of love

We have already mentioned that the fern has been used throughout the centuries as a symbol of love. Let's take a deeper look into this.

There are some fern species, such as the Maidenhair Fern, which are used to help couples strengthen their bonds with one another.

Many people have gotten fern tattoos (more on this later) to show that they are completely devoted to their partners.

The Boston fern is thought to help make people feel more peaceful and have a happier outlook on their lives.

The Fern as a Symbol of Change and Growth

The fern is generally seen in a positive manner, and is often associated with change and growth.

The life, death, and rebirth process of the fern is not only fascinating, but also symbolic of how we are constantly growing and adapting to the world around us.

If there is one lesson we can all learn from the fern, it is that in order to grow and progress, one must be willing to change.

The Fern as a Symbol of Strength and Protection

Many cultures, religions, and organizations use the silver fern as a symbol of protection.

For instance, the Maori people have been using this plant as a symbol of strength and protection for hundreds of years.

The fern is a national symbol of New Zealand. The government took on this symbol as a way to show its commitment to the protection of Maori culture.

Upon further study, you will find that the fern is used symbolically for many military groups and sports organizations.

The Fern as a Symbol of Hope and Peace

Fern as a symbol of hope

When you think about the fern and how it is reborn each spring, it is no wonder that this plant is symbolic of new beginnings.

This plant lets us know that death is not the end but rather a new beginning.

Most people tend to think of death as a finality. But, we actually go through many deaths in our lives, such as the death of a relationships, the death of a career, etc.

The fern teaches us that no matter what happens in life, we must never give up.

Then, there is the fact that the fern is a quiet being that simply lives, thrives, dies, and lives again.

The fact that the fern has a quiet nature is why it is often used as a symbol of peace and harmony.

The Fern as a Symbol of Death

While the fern is often seen as a symbol of life, in many cultures it is also known as a symbol of death.

In fact, it is not uncommon to see ferns placed on graves. The plants are placed there in honor of those who have passed on.

The fern is also used as a decoration for funerals. It can often be seen hanging from buildings and trees during funerals.

Fern Symbolism in Dreams

So, what does it mean when you dream about ferns? There are actually several different interpretations to consider.

For instance, what are you going through in your life right now? What is first and foremost in your thoughts and feelings at this time?

You also need to consider whether or not there are other spiritual messages in your dreams, and the nature of your dreams.

While dreams can differ from one person to another, the general meaning of a fern in a dream is that positive changes are about to happen.

After all, the fern is a symbol of peace, hope, renewal, and growth.

If you keep having the same dream over and over again, and there is a fern in the dream, pay attention to it.

Your dream may indicate that you need to take action on something that is happening in your life right now.

It is important that you make the connection between your dreams and what is going on in your life.

If you keep seeing a fern in your dreams, you need to question what is going on and why you are seeing it.

Then, you can set about preparing for the coming changes.

Naming a Baby Girl “Fern”

Baby girl called Fern

Choosing a baby name can be difficult, especially when there are so many beautiful names to choose from.

If you are interested in a plant name, Fern is a great choice.

The name Fern has very symbolic meanings. This girl's name, with an Old English origin, comes from the the Anglo-Saxon word fearn, as we have already mentioned.

This name refers to the plant as well as those who live with these plants. The fact that this plant has such ancient origins is reason enough to use it as a baby name.

The fern has come to represent many things throughout the centuries, including new life and new beginnings.

In Victorian England, the fern was a symbol of sincerity and humility. The fern has also been used for medicinal purposes.

Seeing as how the fern is so symbolic in so many ways, it is an excellent choice to use as a baby name.

Since the fern is pretty and feminine, it is an ideal name for a girl.

Before They are Ferns, They are Fiddleheads

In Canada and the US, a very popular treat in the springtime months is fiddleheads. Many people don't realize that fiddleheads are actually young ferns.

The tops are tightly curled, making them look like the head of a fiddle or violin. Hence the term, “fiddleheads”.

Fiddlehead ferns are also known as Ostrich ferns, and they tend to grow mainly in eastern and central North America.

They grow in moist areas, and are generally found near streams and forests.

Fiddleheads have been harvested for centuries by numerous Native American tribes. Today, they are commercially harvested throughout Canada and in New England.

Fern Myths

There is much myths centered around the fern. For instance, in the Middle Ages, the fern was thought to only produce seeds once annually.

This would happen at the midnight hour of St. John's Eve, just before Midsummer's Day (June 23).

The celebration of Midsummer's Day and the fern was usually in conjunction with the summer solstice.

Anyone who possessed fern “seeds” was thought to be able to understand bird language, find treasure, and have extreme strength.

Some folklore states that bathing in the dew on Midsummer's Day morning would promote healing, as well as give the person a healthy glow.

Let's take a look at some more fern myths from around the world.

RELATED: A Deep Dive Into the Symbolism of Marigolds: 10 Meanings

The Fern has the Power to Make People Invisible

Fern myth

There was a popular myth during the 1700's about the fern. It was said that this plant could make anyone invisible, due to the fact that it has missing seeds.

At that time, scientists were unable to find seeds or figure out how ferns reproduce. This inability turned into lore, stating that the seeds were there but invisible.

This was such a powerful legend that it has been mentioned in literature, including works by William Shakespeare, Hans Christian Anderson, and Ben Johnson.

The Fern can Restore Vision

In many cultures, there are folk tales that speak of how fern leaves can restore one's vision.

There are also tales of the seeds making it possible for people to see into the future.

For instance, in Scotland, an 18th century claim states that there was a medical procedure involving mixing fern leaves with egg whites to cure short-term blindness and red-eye.

The mixture would be applied on the face and brows of the patient.

In 19th century England, there was a tale, “The Shepherd's Daughter”. In this tale, mer-babies were cured of blindness by fern seeds.

In yet another tale from Russia, a farmer ended up with some fern seeds in his shoe.

Afterwards, he had visions involving hidden treasures.

Ferns Bring Good Fortune

There are many mysteries surrounding the fern, and it is often thought that it can bring good fortune.

For instance, in Baltic mythology, there were stories that the flower from the fern plant only bloomed once each year.

This would take place at midnight on St. John's Eve. Anyone who was able to take hold of the flower or the seed it held would become instantly wealthy.

An English tale from the Middle Ages said that the flower would be seen at midnight. It would be on a pile of 12 plates made of pewter. Inside the flower would be the golden seed.

In some folklore, it was said that ferns only grew on burial grounds where there were treasures. These places were said to be protected by trolls who ensured that no one would steal these treasures.

Ferns Ward Against Evil

There have been many folk tales from around the world stating that fern leaves can keep evil spirits at bay.

They were often used to repel dark magic.

Because the fern is known as a symbol of eternal youth, it was once thought that ferns could end droughts and cause it to rain.

Other stories claimed that the fern could be used to prevent toothaches for up to one year.

All one had to do was take a bite from the first spring fern sprouts (fiddleheads).

RELATED: The Surprising Symbolism Of Daffodils: An Eye Opening Guide

Ferns as Healing Plants

Ferns as healing plants

For centuries, the fern has been used as a healing plants, particularly by tribes in ancient cultures.

For example, the spores on the fern were thought to relieve the effects of stinging nettle, which is often found near ferns.

Other ways ferns were said to heal include:

  • Ferns were used to reduce inflammation and to treat wounds after being boiled in fat or oil.
  • Poultices made from the roots of one type of fern have been used in the Himalayas to treat bruises, cuts, sores, and even snake bites (another type of fern was used in India for snake bites).
  • The extract of fresh leaves from the Nephrolepis cordifolia type of fern has been used to aid in the coagulation of blood and stop cuts from bleeding.
  • The leaf of O. reticulatum fern has been used to alleviate headaches by applying paste made from the leaf to the forehead of the afflicted.
  • Water that has been extracted from the rhizome of Abacopteris multilineata has been used to treat stomach ailments.

Fern Symbolism in Tattoos

There are many reasons why someone might want to have the image of a fern as a tattoo.

feel that it is a symbol of determination, and a tattoo is great for those who are resilient.

The fern is also seen as being motivational, and many have fern tattoos to help them stay focused. Others use ferns as a symbol of relaxation.

Obviously, since the fern is a symbol of growth, it is commonly used as a tattoo for those who want a reminder that they need to always grow. It can also be used as a sign that one has grown.

In Conclusion

The fern is an ancient plant that has much lore surrounding it.

This plant can be used in healing, and has been used in many cultures for centuries in ceremonies, healing, and more.

If you love ferns, there is likely a deeper reason than simply the fact that it is a very pretty plant.

Its meaning goes much deeper than most people even realize.

❤️ Related: