Resurrection fern is an intriguing species of plant known by the scientific name Pleopeltis polypodioides. It gets its name from its effective, defense mechanism against droughts. Being able to survive decades without water and still be able to return to a healthy state after some watering. This has made a lot of scientists take interest the resurrection fern. This fern is located in the Americas but has also been seen in Africa. The resurrection fern is a non parasitic plant, however it is an epiphyte, meaning it grows on other plants but does not take nutrients from them.
The resurrection fern can often be mistaken for a regular fern at first glance. Besides the desiccation state of the resurrection fern it is a normal fern with doubly compound leaves, spores, and true roots. The leaves of the fern are called fronds and they contain the spores on the underside of the leaf. Like all ferns this plant is vascular and without seeds.
Resurrection ferns reproduce the same way that all ferns do, by releasing its spores. Each frond of the fern holds the spores on the underside of its leaves in sori or little clusters of sporangia . At a certain time of year and once the fern has reached maturity, it will release its spores. The spores are released into the air and can travel many miles to their new home where they will grow through mitosis into a new fern.
Resurrection ferns mostly reside in the hardwood forests of southeastern United States. They stretch from Texas to Florida but have been discovered as far north as New York. Some have even been found in subtropical America and parts of southern Africa. The fern is an epiphyte which means its an air plant. An air plant attaches itself to other plants, mostly trees, and gets nutrients from the air, water, and minerals that collect on the outer surface of the plant that it's growing on.
The resurrection fern gets its name for its dessication state. The fern uses it to preserve itself in harsh weather conditions. Pleopeltis polypodioides, when deprived of water, will shrivel up into a brown crumpled mesh and appear dead. The plant does this to preserve what little water it has and uses just enough to keep itself alive. When any water returns or is added to the fern, it will "resurrect" itself and look like a regular fern, turning green again, and unfolding its fronds. After gaining water the resurrection fern can return to its normal state in about as quickly as 24 hours. It is estimated that the resurrection fern could go approximately one hundred years without water and still "resurrect" after receiving water at the end of those one hundred years. The resurrection fern has also been to space. The resurrection fern was taken into outer space on a space shuttle mission where scientists studied its resurrection in zero gravity.
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- sfrc.edu sfrc.ufl.edu, sfrc.ufl.edu. 5/8/11
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