Rainfall in the Florida Panhandle can be described as feast or famine, alternating between daily rain and weeks without a drop. Plants can struggle in these circumstances and if not well adapted to the area may need a little help from gardeners. One plant that is perfectly happy without intervention in these extreme climatic conditions is the resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodiodes).

Resurrection fern is a semi-evergreen epiphytic fern that grows along the branches and trunks of shade trees, rocks, stumps, and other suitable spots. An epiphyte obtains water and nutrients from the air and organic matter on the surface where it is attached; it is not parasitic. This native plant thrives in part to full shade and is cold hardy into Zone 6A. Resurrection fern has fibrous roots and creeping rhizomes that allow this clumping fern to spread and attach itself to trees or objects. Like other ferns it reproduces by spores that are born on the underside of fronds.

When rainfall is scarce, the normally lush fern turns brown, and fronds curl up and it looks dead. Once moisture returns, the fern hydrates and returns to its normal lush look earning the name resurrection fern.

Julie McConnell