Pleopeltis polypodioides (syn. Polypodium polypodioides)
This native fern is an epiphyte, also known as an air plant. You have probably heard of other epiphytes, such as tillandsia, Spanish and ball moss, orchids and bromeliads. Epiphytes receive what they need to survive from the sun, moisture in the air and organic matter that falls their way.
They are plants that need another plant for support and to grow upon, but they are not parasitic. Parasitic means the plant receives nourishment from the host it is living upon. The host does not derive benefit from the parasite and is often harmed by it. Resurrection ferns grow on live oak branches and those of several other trees. This is a very small fern that appears to be completely dead one day with leaves curled up and gray-brown in coloration. The next day, once it receives water, the leaves unfurl and are bright green.
We have this native fern on a branch of our elm tree in the Florida-friendly garden area and on the ground in the shade garden. Please stop by to see our resurrection ferns.
The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden is one of several demonstration gardens at the UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner.