The false Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) is a resurrection plant native to the Chihuahuan desert of the US and Mexico. Resurrection plants are famous for their ability to survive extreme dehydration and desiccation. During the dry season the branches curl inwards, forming a rather dead-looking ball that springs back when moistened. This isn’t the plant coming back to life, but rather coming out of the dormant, ametabolic state induced by the severe dehydration. When dehydrated, the plant can be uprooted and become tumbleweed that blows along the ground with the wind.
False Rose of Jericho. Gif credit: Serych, via Wikimedia Commons.
It’s thought that the ability of these plants to survive such extreme dehydration is due to the presence of a sugar called trehalose. This molecule protects organisms, including the infamous water bears (tardigrades), from extreme conditions by stabilizing proteins and preserving cellular membranes.
It’s pretty spectacular to watch these dried out plants seemingly come back to life when they come into contact with water, so here’s an awesome timelapse shot by videographer Sean Steininger:
Wonder Of Science