Not Everything Is Green

“Not Everything Is Green”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Today was another glorious, sunny, warm day in which to work out in the garden.  I finished spreading all the compost and mulch, and as I was doing so I noticed the resurrection fern on the oak tree.  With all the new spring greenery showing up, I was surprised to see a curled up, brown dead looking plant on the oak tree.  It has not been particularly dry lately, so you would think everything would be sporting spring green.

Resurrection fern or Polypodium polypodioides is an epiphyte that is found on trees, especially oak trees.  They will blanket the limbs of old trees.  I wanted my oak tree to have this fern, so one day, while walking in the neighborhood, I found a twelve inch oak limb with the fern growing on it in the street.  I took it home and just laid the limb next to my tree and waited.  It wasn’t too very long before I started seeing a little fern growing on my tree.

What makes this fern so special, besides its ability to give a tree an ancient look, is that when it is dry it just curls up, turns brown, and looks dead. 




It can stay like this for weeks when it is hot and dry.  However, when moisture is available, it will quickly spring back to life, unfurling bright green leaves, consequently the common name resurrection fern.




Resurrection fern does not harm the tree it is on.  It gets all its nutrients from the dust and rain in the air.  This is a neat plant to show little children who will be fascinated by the “dead fern” coming back to life after just a little water is thrown on it, but for me, I like the way it covers oak trees and makes them seem to be so old and look as if they have been in place for centuries.


  1. Brenda Kula said,

    February 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Well, how interesting! I learn something new from you constantly. I like the idea of how it gets its nutrients from the dust and rain. Dust makes me sneeze!

  2. RobinL said,

    February 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Cool, I’d love to see one of those! I’ve never heard of them before.

  3. Gail said,

    February 25, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Very interesting fern…I love that you found one and introduced it to your garden…gail

  4. nancybond said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    What a delightful and interesting little fern!

  5. February 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve seen Resurrection Ferns for sale by mail order but never growing naturally in a garden, Jan. How clever of you to rescue the fern on the fallen limb.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. February 25, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    That’s supercool. Thank you for the interesting info, Jan. Good night.

  7. tina said,

    February 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Very neat. I too like how you said you found a limb and ‘nonchalantly’ picked it up and put it by your tree. I say nonchalantly because of the way you matter of factly said said it. Makes me smile for sure.

  8. Janet said,

    February 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Certainly takes a keen eye to notice it starting out. Good for you.

  9. Melanthia said,

    February 26, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Now that’s my kind of plant! Very cool.

  10. Randy said,

    February 26, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I look forward to the day we have shade again so we can grow ferns! I’ve never seen a fern I didn’t love. 🙂

  11. February 26, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    What a wonderful adaptation this plant has for your area. I’d never heard of this before, so I thank you for this post! 🙂

  12. "Ryan Duncan" Gatley said,

    March 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    So that’s its name! I have that fern growing rampantly on the trees in the forests near Hogsback in South AFrica. A fern that I would love to have is Gleichenia polypodioides or the Coral Fern which I have been unable to find in Nursaries in South Africa yet have seen them growing wild in certain areas.

    • Jan said,

      March 5, 2010 at 5:38 am

      I am glad you stopped by and found the info. It always amazes me that gardeners so distant from one another have the same plants growing in their gardens. I am not familiar with the Coral Fern, but since I love ferns, I’ll have to look it up.

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