Tuesday, 12 March 2019

rose of jericho

Via the always wonderful and inspiring Nag on the Lake we are introduced to a shrub called Selaginella lepidophylla—a type of resurrection plant—that can cope with the arid and punishing conditions of its native habitat, the deserts of Chihuahua, and survive unscathed near complete desiccation.
During periods of drought—and researchers are looking into how they might reactivate the same dormant genes in food crops to make them sturdier under dry conditions—the plant, also known as the (False) Rose of Jericho, curls up into a ball when dry and unfurls its fronds upon re-hydration and has evolved another clever trick as has its North African cousin—Anastatica hierochuntica, the (True) Rose of Jericho—and can form tumbleweeds to be whisked away to a more favourable location. Since ancient times, farmers (and hucksters) have recognised resurrection plants as vegetable hygrometer to predict oncoming rain. See a time-lapse of the thirsty plant getting a drink at the link above.