Resurrection plants are polikilohydric plants that can survive extreme dehydration for months or even years. There are several species commonly known to us, but since Easter is nearing, lets take a look at the Selaginella lepidophylla, otherwise known as the Resurrection Plant.
Selaginella lepidophylla is a species of spikemoss under the family Selaginellaceae. Selaginella are primitive plants classified between mosses and fern in the plant evolution hierarchy. They reproduce via single-cell spores. There are no flowers, fruits or seeds. Even the leaves are not actual leaves per se, but leaf-like extensions of the stem.
They belong to a group of plants call the Lycopods, which are made up of roots, stem, scales and club-like strobili that produces spores. Lycopods appeared at least 400 million years ago as small plants similar in appearance to what we see today. Between 345 and 280 million years ago, they dominated the plant world as giant trees over 100 feet tall with trunks of up to 6 feet in diameter. Today, what is left of the Lycopods is an inconspicuous bunch with the ability to adapt to their surroundings.
One remarkable attribute of the Selaginella lepidophylla is its ability to tolerate extreme dehydration and the ability to regenerate very quickly in the presence of moisture (Refer to 3 hour GIF timelapse), hence the “Resurrection” tag. The process of the seemingly dead plant coming back to life is nothing short of miraculous (Figure 1 to Figure 3 in a few hours). This makes it a perfect desert plant, and an ideal gift for absent-minded friends (not much need for watering). Just let them know the plants are not really dead or they might throw it away.
Selaginellas can be found in Texas, Arizona and El Salvador, growing on rocks and close to cacti and arid-loving species. When the environment is dry, their “leaves” desiccate and curl inwards into a tight ball and into a dormant state (Figure 1). When curled into a tight ball, their surface area is greatly reduced to conserve as much moisture as possible.These resurrection plants absorb water and grow rapidly when moisture is available, their curled up leaf-like stems extend outwards from the centre, similar to a blooming flower. BAM! Back to life in a day. Amen to that.
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