In many cultures, ferns are associated with the idea of family and the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. 

Choosing a fern tattoo can be a great way to express your connection to your heritage or an eternal link to a significant period in your life. 

If you’re on the hunt for design inspiration, the intricate pattern of a fern leaf itself, commonly known as the koru, is a popular motif. It embodies the concept of perpetual movement and the promise of a new life unfurling.

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Let’s take a deep dive into fern tattoos, what they mean and let’s also check out a few interesting designs.

What Does a Fern Tattoo Mean?

When you see a fern tattoo, you’re looking at more than just a plant design inked on skin. It’s a symbol rich with meaning and history. 

Often associated with new beginnings and growth, a fern tattoo might reflect your own personal development or a fresh start. 

The fern frond, with its unfolding leaves, illustrates the idea of an entity coming into its own, much like you might be in your life journey.

In Maori culture, the koru design, which mimics the shape of a young fern frond, is a powerful symbol. It’s indicative of harmony and tranquility. So, when you choose a fern tattoo, you might be embracing these values as part of your ethos.

  • Growth
  • New Beginnings
  • Endurance
  • Family

The fern can also symbolize an anchor to your family or ancestry, grounding you with roots that go deep. 

It’s like wearing your heritage proudly on your sleeve. Moreover, ferns have the resilience to thrive in various conditions; your fern tattoo could be a nod to your own tenacity and adaptability.

Thinking about where to place your fern tattoo? Consider spots that allow the intricate design to flow naturally, echoing the way a fern grows in the wild. 

Whether it’s wrapped around an arm or cascading down a leg, the fern tattoo is a way to show you’re branching out, unfurling new leaves, and forever pushing through.

Historical Significance of Ferns

Ferns have fascinated people throughout history, carrying deep meanings and playing significant roles in various cultures. They’ve often been a symbol of resilience and new beginnings.

historical significance of fern tattoos

Cultural Importance

Across the globe, ferns are more than just wilderness flora. The Maori of New Zealand consider the silver fern both a national emblem and a symbol representing strength and endurance. 

The unfurling frond of this particular fern, known as the ‘koru,’ has a special meaning, symbolizing life, growth, and renewal.

In some Native American traditions, ferns are associated with rain and protection, while the Kayan people of Borneo believe that different types of ferns have their own significance and have historically identified several edible varieties. 

Among the Kayans, the practice of embedding fern motifs into tattoos is noted, each design carrying a specific meaning tied to their culture. For instance, The Kayans believe in the symbolic power these tattoos hold, linked to their ontological perspectives and their connection with nature.

Ferns in Mythology and Folklore

Turning to mythology and folklore, ferns are shrouded in magic and mystery. 

European legends often speak of ferns as plants that are invisible but still contain the ultimate treasure—ferns’ seeds which were said to contain the secret to prosperity and invisibility, should you be lucky enough to find them.

In Slavic folklore, the elusive fern flower is a magical bloom that only appears on the eve of the summer solstice, granting powers of insight and fortune to the person who chances upon it. 

Ferns permeate these stories, imbuing them with a sense of the supernatural and linking them deeply with their native lands and traditions.

Popular Types of Fern Tattoos

Fern tattoos often symbolize new beginnings and resilience. Check out some of the most sought-after fern tattoo designs below.

Silver Fern

The Silver Fern is iconic, particularly in New Zealand, symbolizing strength and endurance. It’s a choice that reflects your pride or a connection to Kiwi culture, and its intricate fronds can be stylized in various tattoo designs.

Tree Fern

Tree Ferns represent growth and renewal, making them an uplifting design option for your tattoo. Their larger, more distinctive leaves allow for a more dramatic and noticeable tattoo that can stand out as a statement piece.

Maidenhair Fern

Delicate and detailed, the Maidenhair Fern with its small, intricate leaves adds a touch of elegance to your skin art. It’s perfect if you’re seeking something that signifies pureness and a gentle spirit.

Color Symbolism in Fern Tattoos

When you’re considering a fern tattoo, the color you choose can add a layer of meaning to the design. Let’s break it down.

  • Green: The classic choice, green symbolizes growth, nature, and a connection to the earth. It’s as if you’re carrying a piece of the forest with you.

  • Black: Going for black ink can signify strength and survival, much like how a fern lives through challenging climates.

  • Blue: Choosing blue could represent tranquility and wisdom—it’s like the fern is whispering ancient secrets to you.

  • Red: If you opt for red, you’re looking at a tattoo that exudes passion and energy. It’s a bold statement that your convictions are strong and vital like a fern’s fronds.

  • Yellow: A yellow fern tattoo might reflect happiness, positivity, and the joy of new beginnings.

Here’s a quick table breakdown to visualize the color meanings in your fern tattoo:




Growth, Nature, Earthliness


Strength, Survival


Tranquility, Wisdom


Passion, Energy


Happiness, New Beginnings

The color you decide on will give a unique touch to the overall significance of your fern tattoo.

After Care Tips for Your New Tattoo

  • Keep it clean and dry: Wash the tattoo gently with unscented antibacterial soap and warm water 2-3 times a day for the first week. Avoid soaking it in baths, showers, or swimming pools for at least 2 weeks.
  • Pat it dry thoroughly: Don’t rub the tattoo, as this can irritate it. Use a clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel to gently pat it dry.
  • Moisturize regularly: Once the tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of fragrance-free, oil-free moisturizer. Look for ointments recommended by your tattoo artist. Avoid petroleum jelly, as it can trap moisture and bacteria.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing: Tight clothing can irritate the tattoo and prevent it from healing properly. Wear loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton.
  • Avoid sun exposure: Direct sunlight can damage the tattoo and make it fade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure for at least 4 weeks, and always use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when outdoors.
  • Don’t pick, scratch, or itch: This can damage the tattoo and increase the risk of infection. If the tattoo itches, resist the urge to scratch and gently pat it instead.
  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms: These can irritate the tattoo and hinder healing. Wait at least 4 weeks before using these facilities.