Smokies’ luscious ferns take center stage in Arboretum exhibit

An exhibit called “Ferns of the Smokies” that showcases the beauty and diversity of ferns is on display at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville through July 2.

The exhibit showcases almost half of the 49 ferns and fern allies that exist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was created by Discover Life in America and was developed with funding from the Knoxville Garden Club.

Discover Life in America is involved in a quest to identify and understand all species of life within the 800-square-mile ecosystem of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Researchers seek to learn more about the components, abundance, and diversity of life, from spiders in the soil to slime molds in the forest canopy. The project has brought scientists from around the world to inventory the estimated 80,000 species of living organisms in the park. 

Since collecting began in 1998, the massive species survey has uncovered more than 900 species new to science as well as more than 7,300 species that are newly documented to exist in the park. The project involves hundreds of “citizen scientists,” volunteers who collect specimens for the scientists to analyze, thereby keeping the project cost-effective. 

The exhibit will be on display in the education center of the Arboretum through July 2. 828.665.2492 or

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