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Selaginella lepidophylla

 
Selaginella lepidophylla
resurrection plant
Selaginella lepidophylla

Common name resurrection plant
Family selaginellaceae
Life cycle tender perennial (Z8-10)
Flowers inconspicuous
Size 6"
Light part shade

This plant arrived in our home with the label "dinosaur plant", packaged by a novelty gift store in time for a Christmas delivery. It came as a shriveled ball of dried-up mossy material, with promises of a spectacular rejuvenation when watered. Drying up into a tightly bunched ball is its natural mechanism to survive in the Chihuahua desert, where it can survive for a long time between periodic resurrections when water returns. Sure enough, dino did not disappoint. The photos here show the progression from nearly fully dehydrated (the photo at top left was taken just seconds after wetting the plant in some lukewarm water), a little rehydrated, and after a few hours, fully rehydrated with green color and a semblance of lushness. Nice!
The informational materials and the accompanying website were good enough to describe the paleo-history of my plant, but didn't tell me what the plant actually was. Luckily, modern search engines leave no stone unturned, let alone a novelty item like this so I quickly found out that I likely have an individual of species Selaginella lepidophylla, which is in the spikemoss family. It supposedly likes to dry out completely every now and then, which is fine by me that's what happens to many of our houseplants anyway.

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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Last modified: January 15, 2014
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