Long before there were flowers, the world was green. The first plants appeared some 500 million years ago, early
mosses, hornworts and liverworts, low and clinging to the ground. Then, 360 million years ago, ferns rose up, with
newly evolved vascular systems that helped them ferry water to their extremities and gain height. They prevailed as the
dinosaurs fell, through extinction after extinction, obstinate and mostly unchanging; according to the fossil record, a fern
from 180 million years ago was almost identical to its descendants today.
Ferns were, therefore, a part of human existence from our very start, and yet in the West, it wasn’t until the
Victorians that we went mad for these prehistoric relics. Pteridomania, the official name of the fever, was fueled in part
by the 1829 invention of the Wardian case, a glazed glass box built to transport and protect sensitive plants, and by the
extension of roads and railways to previously less accessible and particularly damp corners of Britain, where ferns
thrived. The craze was democratic, cutting across class lines: Farmers foraged for specimens while aristocrats imported
rarities hunted in far-flung lands, from Borneo to Brazil.
You might say that, once awakened, our craze for them never died. In 1960s America, the plants became the
defining decoration of the so-called fern bars, which took inspiration from idealized grandmotherly living rooms (along
with banks of potted ferns, they often featured homey wooden tables with Tiffany-style lamps), creating a space where
single women would feel safe sipping sugary cocktails — an upper-crust version of tiki bars, minus the exuberance. By
the 1980s, ferns (or, more often, their plastic likeness) drooped from macramé hangers in homes across the country, a
tropical trope in a decade that celebrated excess.
【題組】46. What is the passage mainly about?
(A) When ferns became prehistoric relics.
(B) Where ferns became people’s decorations.
(C) How ferns became a target of human’s craze.
(D) Why ferns became imported items for aristocrats.