FERN (from O. Eng. fearn, a word common to Teutonic languages, cf. Dutch varen, and Ger. Farn; the Indo-European root, seen in the Sanskrit parna, a feather, shows the primary meaning; cf. Gr., 'feather', fern), a name often used to denote the whole botanical class of Pteridophytes, including both the true ferns, Filicales, by far the largest group of this class in the existing flora, and the fern-like plants, Equisetales, Sphenophyllales, Lycopodiales (see Pteridophyta).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)