Fern Tattoos: History, Meaning, and Design

Fern Tattoos: History, Meaning, and Design

When you think of the fern, a plant found throughout the world, you may not know that it is one of the most popular tattoo designs of recent years. This may be due to the fact that ferns have been adored for centuries, if not millennia, by indigenous cultures all over the world. But why do people feel such a connection to this plant?

A Fern is a plant that doesn’t fruit but grows from spores. It has a symbolic meaning to cultures around the world, such as the Maori of New Zealand, where it represents new life, new beginnings, and growth. It has become a popular forearm tattoo in recent years.

In this article, we are going to discuss Fern Tattoos, their meanings, origins, and where the most popular place is to get them tattooed on your body. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about Fern Tattoos.

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What is the history of Fern Tattoos?

Ferns have become popular tattoos in recent years, and while they may seem simplistic in nature, they are actually interesting plants that hold a lot of symbolic value. The name fern comes from the Anglo Saxon, Fearn, which means feather.

Ferns are plants that reproduce via spores, so they have neither seeds nor followers. They are amongst the oldest plants in the world, having been found in fossils dating back some 360 million years. The current families arrived around 145 million years ago, and from this, we have over 10,650 species of ferns today. 

Ferns are one of the most fascinating plants, growing in damp and shady spots where other plants would easily die. They are found on all continents besides Antarctica, and they can survive for hundreds of years thanks to their underground roots that store starch and sugars.

They are honored in many cultures around the world, such as the Maori of New Zealand and the Japanese. They also play a large role in mythological legends in Scandinavian countries such as Finland and Slavic folklore. 

Victorian decorative arts portray the fern on pottery, glass, metal, textiles, wood, and paper. So it’s safe to say that ferns have been admired by cultures from all across the world, both ancient and modern, indicating why people still choose this seemingly normal plant as a tattoo today.

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What do Fern Tattoos Symbolize?

The fern has symbolic meaning in multiple cultures, often revolving around eternal youth.

To the Maori of New Zealand, it represents new life and new beginnings, or the willingness to change. Its elegant shape stood for strength, stubborn resistance, and enduring power. 

To the Japanese, the fern symbolizes family and hope for future generations. To the Victorians of England, the fern symbolizes humility and sincerity 

To the modern population, ferns represent the hidden inner beauty of a person. It’s a symbol of patience, endurance, and rebirth, things we need in order to make it through our lives. It relates to someone who feels grounded, as the fern has roots and an underground stem that connects it to the earth’s floor.

All of this symbolism can be seen in the uniqueness of this plant which seems to live a lot longer in harsh conditions, thus making it a great symbol to get tattooed on your body.

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What Do Fern Tattoos Mean?

The Fern has many traits that humans can find applicable in their own daily lives. So when people choose a fern as a tattoo, they’re often doing so from their own interpretation of what a fern means to them.

The one who feels connected to the fern finds meaning in its determination to grow in the harshest of climates. Thus, some people see the same qualities in themselves as they try to evolve and grow in this life, connecting them to the fern. 

The fern then is a great tattoo to get if you’re a person who is resilient and not easily disheartened by life’s many ups and downs. It also represents those who can stay determined and focused on their goals even in tough times.

Others prefer to find meaning in the relaxation of the fern, as it is found in abundance in tropical climates. In this sense, we may see a flowing movement of the fern tattoo, meaning that we are living simply, like a fern blowing in the breeze.

Growth is possibly the most popular meaning behind the fern and just about any plant tattoo. It means we have moved on from our pasts and are trying to become better individuals. A fern tattoo can be a reminder of how you have overcome a harsh past and now rest in a beautiful present.

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Characteristics and styles of Fern Tattoos

As we know, there are over 10,000 different kinds of ferns across the world. Thus, the styles of fern tattoos differ greatly from individual to individual. However, there are some popular designs that appear more often than others.

The major kinds of fern tattoos are: a simplistic outline of the fern leaf in a tribal style, an Americana style, an embroidered style, or a very realistic style. Each is unique in its own way, and as always with tattoos, it’s up to personal preference.

What’s great about the fern is that you can make the style unique, as they can be detailed or as simple as you want them to be. Some people find that simplistic ferns help the drawing look better on the skin, whereas others go for the very detailed and exquisite forms.

It’s popular to add a fern tattoo into a larger design to give the tattoo more meaning. It’s easy to design your fern tattoo in such a way so that it fits into any design you have in mind for your body.

The key is to make it blend into a scene that it complements. Thus you can then have a little fern hidden among a larger piece of art on your body.

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Where do Fern Tattoos Usually Go?

The natural vertical shape of ferns makes it one of the easiest pieces of art to tattoo on just about any area of the body.

Its most common placement is on the forearm, as it can easily be designed horizontally, vertically, or even both ways. It can also work great on the legs, ribs, and even a larger tattoo that runs down the back or across the chest.

Its symbolic nature has made it popular to tattoo on smaller parts of the body as well, such as wrists, ankles, fingers, and even down the neck. So that people feel they carry a little meaningful tattoo wherever they go

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To The Point Facts

  • A fern tattoo is a popular design portraying a plant.
  • It’s found on all continents except for Antarctica 
  • It is one of the oldest plants in the world, dating to 145 million years old
  • There are over 10,000 different species of fern
  • It’s honored by the Maori of New Zealand, the Japanese, and even the Victorians of England.
  • It plays an important role in Finish and Slavic folklore.
  • It symbolizes eternal youth, strength, resilience, rebirth, change, and growth.
  • People find meaning in the fern thanks to its determination to grow in harsh climates promoting the idea of growth in the human psyche.
  • Its most popular styles are simplistic tribal form, Americana, embroidered, and realistic.
  • Getting a fern tattooed on your forearm or leg is very common. 



Ferns have been a common tattoo for many years now, thanks to their qualities which humans can relate to. If you feel like you are a determined person who can adapt to any situation life puts you in, then a fern tattoo could be a great symbolic piece of art for your body.

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