Near immortality! I actually put together a blog post on these things back in February; while I was hunting for information on Selaginella lepidophylla, or the “resurrection plant,” I came upon this fern instead. Seemed a good enough idea at the time to deviate from my plan, and a serendipitous one, at that. I was lucky to find my way to Dr. Robbin Moran, a Mary Flagler Cary Curator of Botany here at the NYBG and a foremost expert on ferns.
My fascination has earned me a mahogany fern as an office companion. Though its rehydration properties are lacking, as its tendency to shrivel and die has shown. —MN
Resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides)
The name of the fern comes from the fact that it can survive in a dessicated state for up to 100 years. The fern revives itself in the presence of water, restoring its green coloration within 24 hours.
Experiments have shown that the fern can lose up to 97% of its water and still survive, in contrast with the typical 8-12% of most plants. When drying, the plant produces proteins that fold the cell wall in such a way that it can be reversed later.