treehaus_gw

Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

treehaus
February 14, 2007

Has anyone grown Selaginella lepidophylla?

I have heard this plant referred to as the Rose of Jericho, and the Dinosaur Plant. My understanding is that the Rose of Jericho is in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), not Selaginellaceae.

Most of the information I have been able to find is from online sellers trying to win kids and their parents on the appeal of the plant's unusual properties, as well as the Dinosaur Plant name. It seems like the plant version of "Sea Monkeys" given the way it's marketed.

S. lepidophylla seems like it would make a neat addition to a cactus collection, but given my inability to find any serious account of their cultivation, I still have no idea what it might be like to grow one. Anyone have experience with this one?

Comments (63)

  • terrestrial_man

    Thanks Georgia-Rose for the feedback.
    Does your friend have any available that he would be willing to part with. What I am thinking is that if he is interested in introducing the species into the commercial trade then I would introduce him to the only commercial enterprise that I know who is actually growing different species of Selaginella to sell. She does not rip off native stands to sell but has developed a diverse inventory of available propagations for the marketplace. The five species I have are entirely from her stock. If so, let me know and I will contact her to see if she is interested in doing so as I cannot vouch for her schedule or commitments.
    Otherwise I would encourage propagation of the species and development of cultural guidelines for the marketplace. Note: there is not a whole lot of money in this venture as the interest in these plants is limited though I would suspect that some kind of mailer to the different universities with greenhouses might be fruitful as such a plant as an oddity would be a curious addition and educational tool at that level. This would be marginally profitable. I have other ideas as well in such an effort. But first find out if he would like to introduce the species.

  • terrestrial_man

    While looking for links for my Selaginella web journal I found this very interesting site with a great image of this new Resurrection Plant.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella tamariscina

  • terrestrial_man

    Hello Patrick Alexander,
    Say I just ran across an image you left at the USDA of a plant of Selaginella lepidophylla!
    Excellent close up shot too.
    Just wondering if you know of anyone who has tried to study this species and to explain how it survives in its habitat.
    The morphology is obviously related.
    I would like to read any habitat studies on this species!!

    Apparently besides the Chinese look-alike there is one in India as well! Called Selaginella bryopteris. Apparently there is some value and study being done on the pharmaecology of the species. Part of the Indian study indicates that a growth promoting ability with protection against heat related cell death may be a significant factor for use in assisting those subjected to heat shock! I also believe the Chinese have done some investigations into the value of their species but I do not handle pictorial languages at all!!!

  • little_ebe

    I saw an ad for Selaginella lepidophylla but hesitate as it sounds like people are just ripping them out of the wild to sell and I think they are endangered. Is it illegal to collect them from the wild? Is there anywhere one can buy one with the assurance they were cultivated?

  • terrestrial_man

    Hello Sharon,
    Did the ad call the plant a "Ressurrection Fern" and mentioned that all you have to do is just sit it in water
    and it will green up?
    I have been trying to get some that were not just yanked out of the area they grow in, mostly in southern Texas and
    New Mexico and into Central Mexico. Most of the plants that are being sold are harvested off of private property and I do not believe any of the laws protect them except on public property.
    Unlike the creeping types of Selaginella that throw off rhizoids along their stems S. lepidophylla and some others have their rhizoids growing fro the center of the plant. What appears to be the case is that in order to grow and propagate these types of species you need the entire plant with the rhizoids INTACT as the growing points of the rhizoids are lost when the plants are ripped out.
    While some observers in the field believe these plants to really be able to dry out and survive I definitely have my doubts. My belief is that if the plant dries out at all it will die entirely. What is important to note is that the plants occur in areas where condensation occurs due to temperature fluctuations from hot days to cool nights and the way this species is arranged around a central core suggests to me that the plants captures atmospheric condensation which permeates into the area where the rhizoids occurs-this is all just conjecture on my part as I am not in a position to prove or disprove it as I am down in Santa Maria and it is impossible for me to do any trekking as well for such studies.
    If you are interested in growing a Selaginella then I would suggest trying Selaginella wallaceii. This is an easy species and would enjoy your shade cool garden in a spot that is humid and moist but getting some direct sun.
    Here is one grower in your area that might be able to help you get some-let him know that Jerry Copeland referred you to him. He lists his plant as unavailable but perhaps he can get you some ??? Other wise you can try Selaginella bigelovii which is very common expecially in Sonomoa county just off 101. S. wallaceii is probably found towards Guerneville. There is a possibility of finding S. oregana-an epiphytic species in that area as well.
    Here is a link to the USDA section on Selaginella of North America with info and images
    USDA Selaginella

    You can check out my photobucket site for some info on the genus.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella of North America at efloras

  • little_ebe

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for all of the good info. I knew nothing about this plant or its family until I saw an ad. After reading what you sent me, I won't be buying one, but I will be reading about them from the cool websites you sent. And if I do buy one from that source you suggested, I will definitely say Jerry sent me. Thanks again for opening up yet another world of beauty and interest for me.

    Sharon

  • harrywitmore_witmore_net

    I also would love to find this Selaginella that has any ability to be grown. I also would love to get in contact with anyone to compare lists and trade.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginellas I Grow

  • adevries

    The previous postings correctly note that commercially availible plants are mostly dead. The key here is the term "mostly." I have found that the tips of these plants often still have living tissue, and I've even been able to grow small rosettes from these tips. However, it looks like it will take 2-3 years for these small plants (0.25-1")to grow back to the 3-6" plants that come in the mail. The process is also rather drastic, but for those who have the patience and a strong stomach, here is a procedure that should give you several living specimens: Take a dry plant ball, break off all of the branches, and then throw the roots away. Next, soak all of the branches overnight in a dilute solution of fungicide. They seem to tolerate copper-based fungicides quite well. While they are soaking, prepare a pot of soil and sterilize it to the best of your ability. I borrowed an autoclave at work, but I've also had good results with peat-based cactus soil that was not sterilized. Maybe one could soak the soil in fungicide?
    At any rate, after 2-3 days in the water, all of the branches should have unfurled and become flat. It should also become apparent at this time which branches are still alive and which ones are just plain dead. The living branches will be bright emerald green, while dead branches range from a pale dusty-green to brown. Collect the living branches, and then press them flat into the surface of the soil. Good surface contact is essential. Cover the pot with saran-wrap to keep the branches in a humid environment, and then wait about 6 weeks. Meanwhile, keep the soil moist, and be ready to remove moldy branches as soon as possible.
    After 4-6 weeks, the branch tips will begin to grow fresh white roots into the soil. At this point, harden them off to dry air, but kept the soil moist.

    Using this procedure it is possible to recover about a dozen plantlets from a single specimen,and on at least two occasions I've even had sporelings germinate from the brown lower portions of the branches. However, I have had problems with mineral buildup that eventually kills the growing tip, mosses that sprout on top of the new growth, and some kind of algae that covered the entire thing in a layer of dark green goo. For those that survive past these hurdles, you can expect your plant to form something resembling a rosette in 2-3 months, growing at a rate of about 2-4 mm per month.

  • gethepp_sbcglobal_net

    Does anyone know how big it gets if you get a live one? Does it grow up or out staying sort of flat? How long can I keep my dead green one in water? I had to put my email her, please no emails to me. I will read the replys here.

    Thank you

  • terrestrial_man

    For S. lepidophylla the width of the plant is probably about 8 to 10 inches for an old established plant. In conditions where it gets consistent moisture then it lies flat. But it will roll up when dry conditions arise.
    Do not keep your dead plant in water at all. You can place the plant in water to get it to unroll but put it into a pot filled with fine gravel. You can spray it to get it to unravel or even set it outside and in humid weather it will unfold on its own.

  • Vincent123

    I bought one of these as a novelty, I thought that the plant was actually alive but it appears not, this is a big shame as I thought it would grow and maybe reproduce... It's a scam and it just opens up and turns green, nothing else. Is there any way to get the whole thing alive to the UK? I would love to own a living one, thanks!

  • terrestrial_man

    Vincent123, I doubt if you could acquire this particular species. You might try looking for S. tamarascina in your area as I believe it is probably being grown somewhere in Europe.
    Your best bet on the ones you have bought there is to see if any of the stems have green tissue left and remove that
    stem and place it onto a moist base, such as sand and peat moss and keep humid in a cool and shaded spot. I have read where some have actually gotten them to "root" out but I do not know if such attempts proved successful in the long run.
    What is needed is for someone in the area where they occur, in Texas or New Mexico, to dig one up intact without disturbing the root system and grow it in a pot and then after a year or so of successful growth try dividing the plant and see what happens. I believe such a propagation will work as long as the roots are not allowed to dry out.

  • tacapollo

    I've had an entirely different experience. I ordered my Jericho plant and got it today. It was a brown ball. I put it in water and over 6 hours later I'm seeing it open with greenery. It looks very healthy. About 80% of the leaves have turned green so far.
    While it was soaking I found this web site and became worried, but it has made it all the more exciting as it opens and becomes greener by the minute.
    I ordered this through Amazon.com through a company called Cyber Planet and I'm very happy so far.

  • terrestrial_man

    tacapollo, done that & they eventually died. You may try removing one from the water once it is unfurled & allow it to dry back & then resoak & repeat the cycle to see if it continues to come back green or not.
    I have heard conflicting stories of plants being dried out for years & coming back but without scientific verification I file them in the dead file!

  • tacapollo

    I'd like to try to let it grow before I let it dry out. I'm thinking about trying to propogate it from a frond/leaf cutting. I'll keep this page posted on how things go.
    I wish I could find a reliable scientific report online about them. All I can find are various personal sucess/unsucess stories and conflicting growing conditions such as full sun/light sun/bright light but no direct sun/full shade. I tend to go for more sun considering their natural habitat, but I've read sun fades their color. Plant in dirt/plant in gravel/leave in water....it's so confusing! LOL

  • Natanada

    carolina has a posting for "selaginella lepidophylla, living" at carolina.com
    The shipping is air mail only and pretty expensive.
    I'll give a heads up if the plant comes alive or as a dried up corpse.

  • Natanada

    the one from carolina.com arrived like all the others. going to try to propagate from tip cuttings.

  • terrestrial_man

    Natanada, good luck on the tip cutting method.

  • Natanada

    The tip cutting method didn't work for me, the cuttings became fuzzy with fungi despite a fungicide; I might try again later. However I got some lepidophylla from MarsBazaar on Amazon and it unfurled into a deep green plant with fleshy leaves that doesn't look anything like the dead plants I received before. I'll look for new growth but I'm hoping this is it. I think this might just have been luck but if you're desperate, MarsBazaar might be your best chance. At least for a while I assume their stock will dry up and die similar to all the others.

  • Natanada

    I pulled and snipped the dead branches off, most of the branches were only green on the tips; I'm trying tip cutting propagation on these. I then pulled the plant apart into three rosettes which I potted up.

  • Natanada

    Posted by terrestrial_man 9 (eyuracleo@hotmail.com) on Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 4:05
    tacapollo, done that & they eventually died. You may try removing one from the water once it is unfurled & allow it to dry back & then resoak & repeat the cycle to see if it continues to come back green or not.
    I have heard conflicting stories of plants being dried out for years & coming back but without scientific verification I file them in the dead file!

    One of the reasons I think people get so confused on whether their plant is dead or not is that when it dries out the tissues of lepidophylla are chock full of antioxidants, which preserve the chlorophyll pigment, even though no metabolic reactions are occurring.

  • terrestrial_man

    If you want to experiment with the S. lepidophylla you may want to try growing it on sterile media in a very humid but airy environment with good light.
    Perhaps ground up pumice in a clay pot, watered once with distilled water, drained, then placed in a terrarium with 70% to 80% humidity.
    Crack open during day to vent, close at night.
    Spray as necessary to keep humidity at least at 70% but
    do not water the plant, just spray it Water will trickle into the mix.
    Be sure that there is good light and keep the temperature range from mid 50s F into 70s F.
    Maybe this will work??

    Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of habitat

  • Natanada

    Yeah that sounds like a great idea. I'm hoping to get a terrarium soon I'm in a dorm so this pot was all I had available at the time. Hopefully I can set it up soon.

    I can confirm new growth! The potted rosettes are growing new rhizomes that are fleshy and white. The offshoots are also responding to light.

    I noticed that the plant is actually a single stem that spirals tightly upwards in a circle with offshoots producing the rosette. Each offshoot produces a rhizome at it's base, eventually growing into previous offshoots and creating a tangled net of vertical rhizomes and horizontal offshoots. I believe that old offshoots and rhizomes eventually compost, creating soil near new rhizomes. This is just a hypothesis and I'm providing this description because I haven't found anyone describe the growth pattern anywhere on the net.

  • terrestrial_man

    Congrats Natanada on getting new growth. Have not done any research into the morphology of this species though the notion of it being a simple compressed stem with the branches being the plant we see makes perfect sense. Definitely keep us informed as to your success on growing the plants you have!!

  • focht3

    Okay, I'm new to this forum. Please be kind. I have a personal interest in this topic.

    I am not a horticulturist or botanist, but I have lived (almost) my entire 58 years of life in Texas, and have some experience with resurrection plants. I'm also a geotechnical engineer (civil engineer specializing in soils, rock, and groundwater) so my profession is in a closely related discipline. I have a firm grasp on soil moisture. Finally, my great-uncle (Dr. Clifford B. Casey) taught history at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, and he was born and raised in Brewster County. He brought me resurrection plants as a kid, and I (mostly) kept them alive - until I planted them in our yard in Houston. Too much water!

    The first mistake that I suspect is being made is that you are trying to grow these like house plants. Stop it. They are desert plants, so you need to treat them accordingly. Only water them intermittently - say, once a month. The soil needs some clay to retain moisture, but too much and you'll get a fungus or similar problem. No, they won't grow very fast that way, but get used to it. Keep them in direct sun; I kept mine on a north-facing window sill. If you live in the South, your AC system will dehumidify the house and create a cool artificial desert with low humidity. You may need to water them a bit more often. Another suggestion: monitor the weather in Marfa, Texas - and water the plant when it actually rains in Marfa. Keep the plant at a similar temperature, if possible. Don't imitate Presidio - watch the weather reports, and you'll see why!

    Soil moisture and humidity: Brewster County is pretty dry. The Rio Grande represents a groundwater recharge feature almost all of the time - water flows from the river, with precious little groundwater (if any) seeping into this stretch of the Rio Grande. Topography rises quickly as you move away from the river, and the subsurface is dominated by rock that doesn't generally behave as an aquifer. The main source of rainwater for this area are weather systems from the Pacific Ocean, or some (limited) moisture from the Gulf of Mexico ("GOM".) If we get a big hurricane in the GOM, it might bring 1/2 inch of rain to the area, most of the time. It's an arid environment.

    As I recall, "Uncle Bill" (NOT his middle name) brought me my first resurrection plant in a plastic bag. I put it in sandy soil, and watered it - it came to life! Since I tend to neglect house plants, this was a perfect plant for me. That plant lived for at least 6 months before I planted it in my "cactus garden" along the driveway. It initially flourished, then died. I guess an inch of rain a week (45 to 55 inches/year) was too much water.

  • Dovie Gelerinter

    So, I just found this page since I recently found a box in our house with one of these so called "Resurrection Plants" that I know we bought two of years ago. One we gave away and the other sat dormant in the house for years. I brought it to work and followed the instructions and it unfurled and turned mostly green but nothing like the picture. It also smelled. I described it at the time as smelling like a guinea pig that needed a bath.

    Over the weekend, it dried up, but came nearly all the way back in about 2 hours this morning. But, again, it doesn't seem to be growing/thriving/responding to light. It even seems to be browning up some while it's in the water.

    I thought it was sick, but it's sounding from here that it's dead. Is that a safe assumption, probably?

    I don't recall when we bought it, but based on the URL printed on the box, it appears that this is where we got it: http://www.dreamproducts.com/resurrection-planttm.html


  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    I apologise if I've missed something here as it is a long thread and I haven't read all of it yet, but Selaginella is definitely not a crucifer! It is in the Selaginallaceae, which are Lycopods, and are related to ferns and mosses!

  • Nate G.

    Hello! i have tried to read as much of this thread as possible! I'm very interested in growing a living Selaginella lepidophylla. After this long thread, can someone conclude, can it be done, how can it be done etc. Its really cool that this thread has been going on for now 11 years.

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Hi Nate, there is life! (-8

    Everything I have tried has failed. I've tried growing them on limestone and clay, gypsum and leafmould, and coir, and they have always died. I've got 5 on order from Farmer Gracy at the moment, It's the only source of them in the UK at the moment. Although S. tamariscina is for sale on eBay and Amazon, which is similar, but smaller and not identical. However, most of these arrive dead. I ordered about 10 separate very cheap tamariscinas. It turned out most came from the same address, and worse, most arrived dead. I have 2 living now, planted in sand and limestone. One looks like it's dying.

  • Nate G.

    I see... thanks for the reply! Maybe someday there will be a way :)

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Nate, Where are you in the world? Have you got access to any?

  • Nate G.

    I'm located in Washington State. No wild ones here... don't know where I can any access but online, and well, online seems to not have exactly what we need.

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Hi Nate, I've tried to post some links but Houz consumes them! Try a search of your Amazon and eBay, there's loads of them! Search "resurrection plant" and "Selaginella lepidophylla".



  • Nate G.

    What I meant was a living, growing one. I've bought the dried up ball that Amazon, eBay and others sell multiple times already, and we all know they aren't the living, growing specimens. But if it's possible to make them grow, well that would be interesting. I just don't know exactly how.

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Yes Nate, I'd love to buy a living rooted one in a pot! But it's easier to find hen's teeth. Some of the ones you buy on Amazon/eBay truly are alive when you receive them, but they generally just deteriorate and die when we try to nurture them.....


  • Nate G.

    Yeah, that's what I thought. Thanks!

  • dbarron

    Well as the gentleman above (focht3) states, this is a desert plant. In fact, I found it growing in full sun on granite shelves covered in sheets of rock moss with echinocereus baileyii. Culture like the native area would be water every few weeks, in a very light media that dries in oh...say 3 days to almost absolute dryness after a drench. Summer would have more moisture and the winter would be mostly dry. It has to be this way because of the cacti's culture.

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Thank you dbarron, that is really useful information!

  • Ms houhouland(LondonUK)

    dbarron , what is rock moss? did you mean you grow yours only on a layer of moss?

  • dbarron

    Moss...growing on a rock.


  • kennethreyes109

    Would a mix of chicken grit(crushed granite) a mixture of play sand, and pumice/lava rock work as a mix? Maybe a little bit of topsoil to add some organic matter into this very porous and gritty mix? From what a I read here, they need a good amount of light, irregular and sparse watering, and a very loose and airy mix that dries quickly. I hope I’m not asking for too much, but can I see pictures of your guys plants? Reading this, 8 feel bad for all the plants that people buy just so they can suffer because of novelty..

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    How to make them thrive Kenneth is still a mystery to me. I think they need periods of damp and humidity with good air flow - hard to achieve indoors. This is a beautiful lepidophylla I received - but it died just like all the others. We also had a batch of 10 much smaller lepidophyllas that lasted a long time. I think they have a better chance when they are transplanted younger.


  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Here is what we believe is S. pilifera. Yes, it also died.


  • kennethreyes109

    Did your guys plants root? The plants are usually ripped from their roots and I think this is why they are dying. Perhaps they need their roots for long term survival? Has anyone tried rooting hormone to get them to reroot and grow?

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    I've never used rooting hormone on them. From memory, the small lepidophyllas did produce a bit of root, but none of the others did. In nature they are associated with limestone and gypsum.

  • kennethreyes109

    @dbarron How often does it rain in your area, where the wild Selaginella live?

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Kenneth, I am far, far away from wild Selaginella! I'm near London, UK!

  • theterrestrialman

    Wow the same old song. Without living rhizoids these plants cannot produce new "roots" so they die off. HOWEVER, there is the possibility that if you get the plant to open up as seen above into a nice green clump you could cut off

    the first inch of the unfolded leaf and try and see if they will root out in damp sand. I would keep them warm and in a humid environment as you would most plant cuttings. In Europe you can acquire Selaginella tamariscina which is a similar species to S. pilifera. In the US it can be found at Plant Delights Nursery online. This species has been grown by the Japanese for ages so its culture is pretty well established.

  • PRO
    Gardenwise

    Thank you Terrestrial Man. I will see if I can try that. The trouble is actually finding one that is really alive enough in the first place to take the cutting from! Look at this for example, it's actually dead already! - https://www.worldwondersgardens.co.uk/rose-of-jericho-selaginella-lepidophylla-dinosaur-resurrection-plant?keyword=selagin

  • theterrestrialman

    Yeah from what I have seen the majority of the plants are actually dead before you buy them. But some greening up does occur if you keep them in water long enough. I think the aim of the product is to get it to unfurl and then let it dry up and do it whenever. There are substances in the leaves that can help maintain the life of the leaf for a while but I have no idea on just what kind of timetable that is: days, months, years, decades??

    Personally I would not even bother buying this product and maybe the people who are pulling up these plants to make spare change will stop and let them live in the habitat that they belong in??

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