Pleopeltis polypodioides the Resurrection fern
Genus: Pleopeltis plee-oh-PEL-tiss
Species: polypodioides pol-ee-pod-ee-OY-deez
The commonly called Resurrection fern is a Texas native epiphyte. This is one of those truly fun ferns. I was looking up at my Walnut tree and all the branches are covered with all of these seemingly dead ferns, and a went and got my camera for this article, because it is suppose to rain the first part of the week. So I thought this should be a good before and after shot. We did not get any rain... so I had to cheat and turn on the sprinkler.
This should be one of the many ferns we see on our field trip to the Little Thicket.
Epiphyte is like an air plant, it grown on something (a tree) but does not get any nutrients from the host. So it does not harm the tree it only uses the tree to live on, not to live.
Many of us remember this fern as Polypodium polypodioides that was so much fun to say!!
This polypodium is extremely drought tolerant, it will turn brown and curl up it leaves and retreats into a little cluster. When the rain comes then it is able to rehydrate itself because the under side of the leaf will suck in the returned water supply and as it swells with water the leaf will fold back out and burst open the green chlorophyll in the leaves rejuvenates and you have a beautiful carpet of ferns grown up the truck of a big hardwood tree and down it's branches. The resurrection process takes about 24 hours Here in East Texas it is very common to see Spanish moss growing in the same tree, this make for a very beautiful combination of plants growing in the forest.
Experiments have shown that the fern can loose up to 97 percent of its water or be dormant for a 100 years and still be resurrected with a good soaking from Mother Nature. With our humidity how could it loose that last 3 percent of water we have almost liquid air.
How to grow outside of nature. That is a good question. I have not had the best luck with this, but then I have not tried real hard we have them in most of our trees here at the house. When we have lost limbs off tree that have the fern all over it I will bring it up to the house and try to enjoy it, but it seems to only last about a year for me, just left on the limb and not doing anything to change the growing medium.
While I was researching for this artificial I found information on how to grow as a house plant. It said to use a clay pot and very coarse sand, no soil and no sphagnums moss. Water in the Spring and Fall and let it dry out over Summer and Winter. It did suggest high humidity and we know with our air conditioners we loose that in the house, so place in a saucer with pebbles to keep the fern from loosing 100 percent of its moisture. This might be something we try for a work shop.... I have the plants...
Did you know that this fern was taken into space as part of a NASA experiment to watch its resurrection in zero gravity. Pretty special!!!