Royal Fern

Osmunda regalis

Visible now

Fossil evidence suggests that royal fern Osmunda regalis has changed little in 180 million years – it’s like looking at a living fossil.

It evolved on the supercontinent Gondwanaland before there were any flowering plants, bees, ants and birds. Growing up to 2.5m high, you can imagine large dinosaurs feasting on its juicy leaves.

We’ve planted royal fern in the Wallace Garden to help to illustrate the evolution of non-flowering plants.

We’ve also a wonderful sculpture on the Broadwalk inspired by the longevity of this amazing plant. ‘Osmunda – Living Fossil’ was sculpted from Kilkenny limestone by Glenn Morris.