Time to bring back Resurrection Ferns

One of my favorite plants when I strolled through the woods as a young child was resurrection fern, Pleopeltis michauxiana. If the Latin name sounds unfamiliar, it was originally published in 1939 as a member of a different fern genus, Polypodium polypodioides var. michauxiana. It’s natural distribution range is quite large, from West Virginia south into Central America.

From the time I first saw this fern, nearly 60 years ago, I found it fascinating that this native evergreen fern could grow on both trees and rocks, without being rooted into the ground. Through the years, I’ve tried to cultivate it many times, both in containers and in the garden, failing repeatedly.

Finally in 2004, we took a small piece and glued it to a water oak in the garden using the commercial outdoor adhesive, Liquid Nails. Below is that same plant, almost 20 years later at JLBG. When the weather dries, the clump quickly shrivels and looks dead, only to revive when rain arrives or the garden is irrigated. We’re still trying to figure out how to get this into the nursery, so we can share it more widely.

Pleopeltis michauxiana

2 thoughts on “Time to bring back Resurrection Ferns”

  1. My mother-in-law gave me one of these that was growing wild in the woods near her home in Alabama about 15 years ago. It lives on a rock in my woodland garden and comes to life when it rains. Very unusual plant!

  2. I would be very happy to grow this species here in France, to ornate some trunks, walls,.. and see how miraculously it greens again after droughts ( here we have the native Polypodium vulgare, but don’t give the same effect )
    If you have some spores to spare, I want it to try ! ( in the frame of an exchange, a trade, or other )

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