138. Vessel Fern

This majestic vessel fern was collected on the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842. That voyage brought back more than 900 living plants and seeds from around the globe and formed the United States Botanic Garden’s first tropical plant collection. 

Fern leaves are called fronds and this species’ fronds can grow to nearly 30 feet long! Each of those massive leaves begins as a tightly coiled bud called a crozier or fiddlehead. You may be able to see a leaf still in the process of unfurling – look at the center of the plant to see if you can spot a fiddlehead.