There’s beauty and resilience in the resurrection fern

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There's beauty and resilience in the resurrection fern
Photo courtesy Derek Gilbert

When you think of Savannah you think of sprawling mighty oak trees and the beautiful Spanish moss that hangs from them. But, there’s some more greenery on our live oaks that often goes unnoticed; the resurrection fern, and it’s a real fighter.

They say that rain brings things back to life, and that’s true with this plant.

There’s an amazing resilience in the resurrection fern. Abundant here in Savannah growing on our live oaks, it can go without water for 100 years, then miraculously come back to life.

You’ve seen them before, even if you don’t realize it. If you’ve ever looked at a centuries-old live oak and noticed green fronds that look like ivy curling around some of its branches, you’ve caught a glimpse of a resurrection fern.

According to the National Wildlife Federation’s Guide To Plants, the resurrection fern can lose up to 97 percent of its water content in a very extreme drought and still live. It will shrivel up to a grayish brown clump of leaves and look like a dead plant.

Then, when it is exposed to water again, it will “come back to life” and look green and healthy.

The plant gets its name from this supposed “resurrection,” but it never actually dies during the process. By contrast, most other plants can lose only 10 percent of their water content before they die.

Along with our Spanish moss, it certainly plays its part in making our amazing live oak trees look so much more beautiful, and it plays its part in making Savannah the beautiful place that it is.

See more outdoors in Savannah here.