Let's unfurl the secrets of our newest favorite botanical, Selaginella lepidophylla aka Rose of Jericho or Resurrection Plant. A beautiful symbol of hope and resilience!
This ancient plant is part of the spikemoss family, native to one of the world's most bountiful flora treasures boxes, the Chihuahuan Desert. Covering most of northern Mexico and stretching into the Southwestern United States, this desert landscape harbors over 3,000 plant species with more than half of the world's cacti population!
Just as cactus can go long stretches of time without water, the resurrection plant can survive years without water, losing up to 95% of its water before finally drying up and dying. Talk about patience and resilience!
During extensive drought the roots of the resurrection plant detaches its roots to be carried by the wind (tumbleweed style) in search of a new home where it can be properly hydrated once again. However, just like us, stress can wear down the vitality of the plant over time and, if forced to be hydrated and diseccated over and over again, it will eventually die. When hydrated it boasts a rich emerald green hue and can live for many years, reaching to a full grown state of about 5 inches around.
Care for these plants is simple. You can grow these as a ceremonial plant or as a houseplant. Place dried (dormant) plant in a bowl or pot filled most of the way up with pebbles or rocks so it has a nice place to rest. Then, fill with distilled, tap, or rainwater and place plant in a warm, bright location. Then get ready to enjoy the unfurling show!! It takes anywhere from 6-24 hours for them to unfurl and begin to green up!
*To recreate their native desert habitat, we treat them to a thorough misting each morning and keep them in a sunny window. You can grab our amber spray bottle for misting! Change water out often and if your plant begins to look a bit mushy or develop any mold, remove from water, rinse, trim off damaged parts and give it a few days to weeks to months to rest out of water. Then replace in water and enjoy! These plants can rehydrate several times in their lifecycle before losing their ability to photosynthesize.
**Best to keep away from your fur babies! These are among a long list of plants like philodendron, aloe, golden pothos and sansevieria that are best kept away from cats and dogs.
Selaginella lepidophylla is known by many endearing names like stone flower, false rose of Jericho, dinosaur plant, rose heart, resurrection moss, rose of Jericho, or, a personal favorite, siempre viva. The most common name, rose or false rose of Jericho refers to the biblical city constantly reborn again from the ashes, a bit like the magical phoenix. Because of its resilient properties, this incredible spikemoss has been known to symbolize many things throughout human history. A lucky charm carefully handed down from generation to generation always carrying the hope of resilience, in voodoo rites it has been used to invoke good fortune and love. Resurrection plants are also worn around the neck or carried on the body to absorb negative energy.
Spikemosses are also known as "fern allies" which is why Selaginella lepidophylla is often called a resurrection fern. Although not a true fern, this diverse group of vascular, prehistoric plants also procreate by dispersing spores and have separate life cycle stages. Another favorite fern ally we adore is Equisetum (pictured above). With its fantastic architectural aesthetic and ancient cellular healing properties, we find this plant family enthralling!
Here are some fun photos from iNaturalist.org of resurrection plants in their native habitat for you to explore.
Happy growing friends!