Monday, January 10, 2011

Tree ferns?

While visiting Huntsville last week, I noticed ferns growing on what I think was a live oak tree. We've never seen this before. The ferns are actually rooted into the tree bark so they have to be parasitic, like mistletoe. Which means they CAN'T be good for the poor tree!

UPDATE–JANUARY 14, 2011–A quick search turned up more info on this critter, which readers Jonni and Mkircus told me is a resurrection fern. Polypodium polypodioides is an air plant.

According to Floridata, "Resurrection fern is not a parasite. It gets its water and nutrients from rain and dust, and causes no harm to the tree that supports it. This little plant is sometimes sold as a novelty item in gift shops and as a mail-order 'miracle plant' on the back covers of comic books and magazines."


Jonni Almoney said...

Sheryl, It's resurrection fern -- a fairly common critter in Houston.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Wow, thanks, Jonni! Now I've got to find out more about them!

Marilyn Kircus said...

They are one of my favorite plants. I have actually cut dead limbs down and taken them home and hung them from a tree. They are air plants and I usually see them on oaks. They get their name from their ability to survive dry conditions by seemingly dying - curling up and turning brown. But as soon as they get a little moisture, they come back to their lovely green life.

Here is a link to them.

I have just done several paddles in the Trinity River basin where the invasive Japanese fern is trying to cover all the trees. I thought at first that you were talking about it.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

I still haven't had time to do a little research on them. But can't wait!

darwinsdog said...

These ferns are epiphytes, not parasites. Their roots don't penetrate the cambium of the tree. They obtain moisture & nutrients from the air, rather. Up to a third of Leptosporangiate ferns are epiphytes.

Amy said...

i have them growing in between my roofing shingles! :(
cant be good for the roof huh?

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Probably not! But I bet they sure look pretty!!

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