MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, single stranded RNA molecules that regulate the stability and translation of messenger RNAs in diverse eukaryotic groups. Several miRNA genes are of ancient origin and have been maintained in the genomes of animal and plant taxa for hundreds of millions of years, and functional studies indicate that ancient miRNAs play key roles in development and physiology. In the last decade, genome and small RNA (sRNA) sequencing of several plant species have helped unveil the evolutionary history of land plant miRNAs. Land plants are divided into bryophytes (liverworts, mosses), lycopods (clubmosses and spikemosses), monilophytes (ferns and horsetails), gymnosperms (cycads, conifers and allies) and angiosperms (flowering plants). Among these, the fern group occupies a key phylogenetic position, since it represents the closest extant cousin taxon of seed plants, i.e. gymno- and angiosperms. However, in spite of their evolutionary, economic and ecological importance, no fern genome has been sequenced yet and few genomic resources are available for this group. Here, we sequenced the small RNA fraction of an epiphytic South American fern, Pleopeltis minima (Polypodiaceae), and compared it to plant miRNA databases, allowing for the identification of miRNA families that are shared by all land plants, shared by all vascular plants (tracheophytes) or shared by euphyllophytes (ferns and seed plants) only. Using the recently described transcriptome of another fern, Lygodium japonicum, we also estimated the degree of conservation of fern miRNA targets in relation to other plant groups. Our results pinpoint the origin of several miRNA families in the land plant evolutionary tree with more precision and are a resource for future genomic and functional studies of fern miRNAs.