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Resurrection fernn
Liberty lore
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     I laughed when I saw an ad for Resurrection Fern in a plant magazine.  I had never thought about it being for sale.  It was $14.95 for a gallon pot.  Then I discovered that it is sometimes sold as a novelty item in gift shops and as a mail-order “miracle plant” on the back covers of comic books and magazines.  Now, I know most of you people living in Liberty County are familiar with Resurrection Fern.  I think it is beautiful.
      Many plants get our attention because of their beautiful blooms, magnificent size and structure or exotic appearance.  However, the Resurrection Fern is intriguing because of its ability to virtually “rise from the dead”.  Its otherwise lush green leaves dry and wither in hot, dry conditions but flourish once again when moist conditions return.
     The Resurrection Fern is an epiphyte or “air plant”.  Epiphytes are usually found growing on other plants, but make their own food the same way as other green plants do.  They obtain nutrients and moisture from the air or where they may collect on the surface of a host plant.  Some other well known epiphytes include orchids,  bromeliads and Spanish moss.  The fern does not produce fruits or seed but  reproduces by spores.
     Resurrection Fern can be seen around here growing on old live oaks and pecan trees where it creates a green blanket of foliage on tree trunks and branches.  The rhizomes easily attach to the deep cracks and fissures of tree bark where a firm hold is easily obtained and moisture is readily  available during rainy spells.  The leaves are usually three or four inches long, an inch wide and deeply incised.  The mass of foliage does not harm the host plant.
     The most dramatic quality of Resurrection Fern is its ability to dry down to a gray, gnarled crispy appearance during dry, hot weather.  This is its defense against heat and drought and is actually a means of survival. It has been estimated that this fern can survive 100 years without water and be revived after a single soaking.   Within a few hours of rainfall, the dry mass becomes lush and green again.  This entire process of unfurling and becoming soft and green takes place in only a matter of minutes.  This tiny plant has been taken on a space shuttle mission to watch it resurrect itself in space.
     If Resurrection Fern is not growing naturally on your property and you would like some, gather a starter plant from a fallen branch in the woods and inoculate your own trees.  Get several inches of the thin rhizome and squeeze it into the furrows in the bark of its new host.  It should begin to grow there.  
     A few years ago, I was visiting in the historical Midway Cemetery and noticed the large limbs that a storm had blown off the Dr. Abner Porter live oak tree.  The limbs were covered with the Resurrection Fern.  I asked permission to get a large piece of a limb and take it home with me.  I placed it in the forks of a live oak in our front yard.  I love to watch it when it is dry and brown and then after a shower see it so pretty and green.  Of course, there are many other limbs on the oaks that are covered with the fern.  If you do not know what Resurrection fern is, the very best place I can tell you to observe it is in the Midway Cemetery.  There are many huge ancient live oaks in it and they are all covered with the fern.  If I remember correctly,  the kitchen roof behind the museum used to be totally covered with the fern.  Long ago people kept it on the roof to provide additional insulation.

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