Thanksgiving Trip to the Woods

"Resurrection Fern" growing on Oak tree limbs, Nov. 2016

“Resurrection Fern” growing on Oak tree limbs, Nov. 2016

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, we traveled to the back woods to enjoy time with extended family. As the visiting subsides, my favorite thing to do is to explore plants growing at the time we are out there.

With the return of the rains in October and November, there was plenty of plant life to investigate. My favorite discovery was the “resurrection fern” (Pleopeltis polypodioides) found growing on the oak limbs among several types of lichens (the blue green, flat to leafy looking material).

This fern appears during moist periods — it anchors itself to the oak limbs but is not parasitic to the tree (may be found on living or dead tree limbs). This fern survives extreme conditions of dry periods as it can lose nearly all it’s moisture and still green up and grow with added moisture (thus the common name “resurrection fern”.

"Resurrection Fern", close view

“Resurrection Fern”, close view

The photo (right) shows a close-up view of the fern. Along the edges of the leaves, there are brown circular spots (called sori, plural, or sorus, singular) that house spores that are eventually released, germinate, and produce additional ferns.

As the humidity decreases the fern dries, the leaves turn brown and a small mass of dried tissue remains… and waits … until the moisture returns and the fern returns as if nothing happened.





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