Resurrection Fern

Before and after photos of resurrection fern
Resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) before rain (top) and after (bottom).

You’ve probably seen resurrection fern growing on the branches of live oaks or other trees. This tiny little fern can do what few plants can—look dead one day and totally alive the next.

When the weather is dry, resurrection fern turns gray and shrivels up. But when the rain comes, resurrection fern will spring to life within a matter of hours, turning bright green and unfurling its fronds.

This native fern is an epiphyte, or air plant. It makes its home growing on other plants, but it still photosynthesizes the way other plants do.

A fun garden project to do with kids is to find a dry resurrection fern and mist it with water every hour for a few hours to see how long it takes before the fern turns green again.

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