Ferns of the World – Decatur, Georgia - Atlas Obscura

Ferns of the World

Decatur, Georgia

This collection of ferns from across the globe is the largest assortment in the United States.  

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Tucked away on the campus grounds of the Georgia State University’s Perimeter College is a little-known garden of Jurassic proportions. Few people realize that beyond the over-sized college parking lot, and behind the Native Plant Botanical Garden, lies a hidden world frozen in time. Ferns of the World is a sanctuary with perhaps one of the most impressive collections of ferns in the United States

In 1990, a botany professor by the name of George Sanko was given permission to plant a native plant botanical garden on a three-acre plot on the campus. Although the native plant garden was adeptly and beautifully constructed, Sanko also seized the opportunity to plant his extensive personal collection of fern species from all over the world.

With an astounding variety of unique and unusual ferns that continued to grow over time, this lush green haven turned into a world-class garden in its own right. Although Sanko passed away in 2018, his unparalleled collection of ferns still delights and enchants people, as if they were transported to a Jurassic world. 

Today, these gardens are recognized as the most extensive assortment of fern species in the United States. Yet they remain little-known, out of sight, and hidden amid a tranquil hideaway. 

Know Before You Go

Ferns of the World is part of Georgia State University's Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden and free to visit. Walk past the Native Plant Botanical Garden and into the forest to find the ferns.