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Selaginella lepidophylla, a rose of Jericho time lapse

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Selaginella lepidophylla, also called the false Rose of Jericho, is a resurrection plant. Normally an emerald green, the plant looks dead when deprived of moisture. When re-exposed to water, even after years, Selaginella lepidophylla can transform in 12-24 hours from its desiccated state, as shown in the time lapse video above. Sean Steininger filmed the fern’s transformation in 2011.

rose of jericho Selaginella lepidophylla resurrection

Selaginella lepidophylla is not to be confused with Anastatica: both species are resurrection plants and form tumbleweeds, and they share the common name “rose of Jericho.” This common name refers to the biblical city of Jericho, which was constantly reborn from its ashes like this plant that is endowed with the capacity for revival. This ability allows it in its natural environment to resume growth by rehydrating after a long period of drought…

If the drought persists, the roots can let go and the wind carry the plant, sometimes allowing it to find a new wet place where it can rehydrate before taking root. Nonetheless, the plants that go through the resurrection process are not always able to “rise again”: in the case of the false rose of Jericho, if the dehydration has been too rapid, or in the event of an irregular alternation of drought and humidity conditions, the plant does not have the time to prepare properly to resist the water stress to which it is subjected. Likewise, the ability to dry up and resume living can diminish over time and the plant, after tens of times in which it manages to alternate drying and vegetative growth, dies.

curled up Selaginella lepidophylla
Here’s another Selaginella lepidophylla, filmed by Gregor Skoberne:


Next, watch more time lapse videos with plants, including kidney bean & spinach plant soil cross-sections, Wild Plants of Japan, Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), and an epic 4K flower time lapse that took 3 years to make.

Plus, watch more videos about drought, tumbleweeds, and other curiosities, including Superbloom: How Death Valley Springs to Life and The Animal That Wouldn’t Die: The Hydra.

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