Air Ferns

Are air ferns really plants? Since they need no sun or water, do they survive on just moisture?...
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Question: Are air ferns really plants? Since they need no sun or water, do they survive on just moisture?

-Coconino, Ariz.

Answer: "Air Fern" refers to Seloginella lepidophylla, a fernlike moss native from Texas to South America, or the desert plant Anastatica hierochuntinca. Both are commonly called resurrection plant. When moist, the latter fernlike herb unfolds and expands to reveal small, toothed leaves and sometimes-tiny white flowers. It may be as much as 12 inches in diameter. When it dries it rolls up into a tight ball about 2 inches across. This is the dormant stage, and the form in which it is most often sold. It can remain in this resting form for years and still expand and resume growth when moisture becomes available.

Seloginella lepidophylla also curls into a ball when dry and opens out flat and turns green when moist. It is the more fernlike in appearance of the two.