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Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Posted by treehaus 4 (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 14, 07 at 15:28

Has anyone grown Selaginella lepidophylla?

I have heard this plant referred to as the Rose of Jericho, and the Dinosaur Plant. My understanding is that the Rose of Jericho is in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), not Selaginellaceae.

Most of the information I have been able to find is from online sellers trying to win kids and their parents on the appeal of the plant's unusual properties, as well as the Dinosaur Plant name. It seems like the plant version of "Sea Monkeys" given the way it's marketed.

S. lepidophylla seems like it would make a neat addition to a cactus collection, but given my inability to find any serious account of their cultivation, I still have no idea what it might be like to grow one. Anyone have experience with this one?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Hey Treehaus,
You are right on the Rose of Jericho being a crucifer.

You may be able to find dead plants available on the net.
These are pulled out of their habitat and bagged and sold as resurrection plants that will spring back to life when you put them into a bowl of water. Yeah really!!! NOT!
They do uncurl. They may even turn green but alive means being able to grow. This they do not do. I know because I have tried to grow these poor plants. I even sent some to Judith at Fancy Fronds to try as she is more the expert at growing Selaginellas than I. No luck with her either.

The plant should be very easy but you need a living plant!!
That means you would have to find them, they occur into Texas, and be able to collect a whole plant with the rhizomes/rhizophores intact. My experience with other members of this subsection which includes S. kraussiana is that they need moisture at their roots even if it is only condensation during the night that amasses on the plant and rolls down to the center of the plant and feeds the rhizomes.
I have never found a site that offers live plants. I would not be surprised that someone prob. in Texas has these and is growing them but finding them ???
Just keep in mind that because it curls up to protect itself does not infer that its rhizomes are dried out as well. My feelings are that this plant can retain water overnight and that there is daily water available from both evaporation from the soil upward to the rhizomes and from condensation on the plants and surrounding soil. Incidentally the plant occurs in rocky places, ledges, where water can percolate deep. I often wonder to what extent there are actual basins of available water hidden under the debris and ridges that these and other nearby plants can tap.

If you are interested in a Selaginella species that is almost similar but of the other section, Tetragonostachys (think i got this spelled right) then check out Selaginella bigelovii which is available at Fancy Fronds in Washington.
Here is the link:
http://www.fancyfronds.com/
She is currently offerring both S. bigelovii and S. wallacei. S. bigelovii spreads by underground stems. S. wallacei sprawls across the surface producing little root-like structures called rhizophores that anchor the stem into the rocky substrate. These grow easily for me in Santa Maria, California.

Incidentally I hope to be having a web journal up on the ones I am currently growing: S. scopulorum, S. hansenii, S. bigelovii, and S. wallacei. I already have one up on S. sanguinolenta compressa though it really is focused upon the moss flora that occurs with it in the 4 inch pot that it is in. There is a thread with link in this forum.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

terrestrial man,

See, that's just what I wondered about. I had not read any accounts of their actual cultivation (and growth), just that they unfurl and turn green when watered. What a scam! Well, thank you for the information.

Those questions as to S. lepidophylla's methods for obtaining moisture are interesting - it can be really hard to find information about how some plants live in their natural habitats. I did read that S. lepidophylla grows in the Big Bend area in West Texas, and having been there once before, I can tell you it says a great deal about the Selaginellaceae family that some of its members have adapted to such an environment. It can be extremely dry there. If the plant grows as you say on rocky ledges, perhaps they grow in the cool of certain cliffs above rivers, or beside springs?

Thank you for the link to Fancy Fronds - I have not heard of it until now, so I will definitely check it out. S. bigelovii sounds very interesting! Thank you for the suggestions.

Thank you for the invitation to have a look at your web journal, I look forward to seeing what you post there about Selaginellas - sounds like you have a very impressive assortment of them!

Thank you for sharing your suggestions and knowledge about these plants.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Thanks Treehaus.
I have been studying Selaginella bigelovii for quite a while. I have done a basic survey of its habitat from the Sierra Madres bordering the Cuyama River east of me down into the San Gabriel Mountains just north of the Los Angeles area.

The species is definitely located in areas where there is bound to be some kind of condensation as well as here short and intermittent summer showers. The fact an area looks arid and dry can be illusory. You really need to spend time in the area to see what is really happening!! I would think that the Selaginella in Big Bend occurs at some point above the river or along feeders into it, prob. wedged into crevasses between boulders. My observations are basically assumptions based upon certain environmental interactions. My major at UCSB was environmental biology.

I also a learner by experience. Sometimes the hard knocks sink in!!!? One was mistakedly thinking that because the area looked very dry that the plants could handle dryness!! Only netted dead plants!!! Ummmhhh must have been a wrong conclusion somewhere!!


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

In appropriate habitat, this is a common plant in the Big Bend area. Problem there is that the national park, state park, & WMA in the area don't approve of collecting and the rest of the land is private.

Likelihood of condensation in the Big Bend area is quite low. There are no significant large sources of humidity, and the plants are not restricted to the sorts of microhabitats that will concentrate humidity. They appear to require exposed limestone at low elevations, and not much else. Generally not on south or southwest facing slopes, but common enough on open north & east slopes. Not any more common in canyons, that I could tell, and in the case of Closed Canyon in the state park, they were more abundant on nearby rock outside the canyon than within it.

They're cool plants; I also wish I had a good live source. Here's the best I've found:

https://www2.carolina.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?jdeAddressId=&catalogId=10101&storeId=10151&productId=2424&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=&crumbs=n

They list five species and say the collection includes their choice of three... but I wonder how much I should trust their IDs, and what the actual likelihood of getting a plant of Selaginella lepidophylla out of this is (their wording would be strictly correct even if they never send any S. lepidophylla!).

Patrick Alexander


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Thanks Patrick!
Interesting comments. It would be interesting to find out about their habitat and what these plants deal with during the course of a year and what allows them to survive there.

Be interesting to see if any scientist has taken the time to really investigate the region or this particular species.
A friend (from Denmark, who I believe was working in coordination with the Copenhagen Botanic Garden) did collect the species in Mexico and is apparently growing it successfully in a gritty soil in full sun. I have emailed him to get the particulars on what he collected: the entire plant roots and all or just hack off or pull out the plants like the bagged ones?? Maybe the plants I got could have made it???? I did not put them into full sun. Maybe I over watered them?? Lots of questions. Especially since these are not complex vascular plants and have no regular means of storing water with only their habit of curling up as being one response to the aridity. An interesting subject to check into.

On the Carolina Biological Supply source one might email them and find out if they actually have any of it. It may only be available later in the year??? Or ???

I will check to see if the source I got it from still offers it. One thought: if you know where some might be in the area on private property you might want to check with the property owner to see if you could take some. I think that mastering the cultivation and propagation of this plant is a worthy goal as it is something that interests many.


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more thoughts

Thanks Patrick!
Interesting comments. It would be interesting to find out about their habitat and what these plants deal with during the course of a year and what allows them to survive there.

Be interesting to see if any scientist has taken the time to really investigate the region or this particular species.
A friend (from Denmark, who I believe was working in coordination with the Copenhagen Botanic Garden) did collect the species in Mexico and is apparently growing it successfully in a gritty soil in full sun. I have emailed him to get the particulars on what he collected: the entire plant roots and all or just hack off or pull out the plants like the bagged ones?? Maybe the plants I got could have made it???? I did not put them into full sun. Maybe I over watered them?? Lots of questions. Especially since these are not complex vascular plants and have no regular means of storing water with only their habit of curling up as being one response to the aridity. An interesting subject to check into.

On the Carolina Biological Supply source one might email them and find out if they actually have any of it. It may only be available later in the year??? Or ???

I will check to see if the source I got it from still offers it. One thought: if you know where some might be in the area on private property you might want to check with the property owner to see if you could take some. I think that mastering the cultivation and propagation of this plant is a worthy goal as it is something that interests many.


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another source

Ok, found out that my original source no longer carries the product.
But you can buy individual plants a the link below.
The shipping is probably as much as the plant itself or more.
But it comes with growing instructions! I just hope it isn't stick it in a bowl of water and watch it turn green!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Buy resurrection plant here


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Wow, I dropped out of this conversation, glad I checked back in!

Terrestrialman, I followed the link you have provided - is this resurrection plant alive then? I too would not want it to be something you stick in the water only to watch it turn green rather than grow. I decided to try to contact someone at the company to see if we can find out if the plant is alive or just a novelty. I will let you know if they respond to my inquiry.


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Update on friend who grew Mexican plant

I got an email from my Danish friend who actually collected a plant in Mexico. Here is what he said:
"About the Selaginella lepidophyta. I dig it up, and it had small roots. I
lost it to hair-like fungus, and did not try to save it, thought I just buy
a new. But they does not work for me either. Wonder if they are just too
old, or have been boiled or heated? No one seems to be able to grow them."

When he says no one he is talking about several growers in Europe and probably America.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Has anyone grown Selaginella tamariscina? An Asiann species that curls up when dry. A friend collected some during one of his plant hunting expeditions to China about 25 years ago and has maintained it in his garden since then.

RB

Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella tamariscina


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I have no experience with it. Is it epiphytic? In the picture you included a link to, the Selaginella appears to be growing on the surface of a rock, but maybe I am wrong. How is your friend growing it? It looks a great deal like Selaginella lepidophylla.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Georgia-Rose,
Wow what a surprise!
This species is basically unknown in cultivation but is known in the pharmacology trade. All I can find are Chinese links that are pointless to pursue since I do not read chinese!
But can you find out more on how your friend is growing this species. Has this species reproduced more plants for him or is it the only one that has grown.
Any information would be a big plus of knowledge that should be documented.
Much thanks.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Terrestrial_man....
My friend grows the Selaginella tamariscina in his garden soil, which is composed of compost developed from many years of decayed vegetative matter in a mesic woodland. Underlying soil is red clay. USDA Zone 7. He propagates them by division of the original plant and said that he has never observed a mature sporophyte, during the many years he has grown them. Maybe his original plant was sterile? or only produces one type of sporophyll or conditions in that environment is not condusive to producing zygotes and then sporophytes? Unknown!
He also related that S. tamariscina is a favorite in Japan for use in Bonsai and that he had observed many different colors in use for that purpose, often they were Japanese named cultivars. The species was readily available at almost all local nurseries there.
Since it is relatively easily cultivated species, one would wonder why it isn't more available here? I didn't find it on the APHIS list of prohibited plant imports.???
RB


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Thanks Georgia-Rose for the feedback.
Does your friend have any available that he would be willing to part with. What I am thinking is that if he is interested in introducing the species into the commercial trade then I would introduce him to the only commercial enterprise that I know who is actually growing different species of Selaginella to sell. She does not rip off native stands to sell but has developed a diverse inventory of available propagations for the marketplace. The five species I have are entirely from her stock. If so, let me know and I will contact her to see if she is interested in doing so as I cannot vouch for her schedule or commitments.
Otherwise I would encourage propagation of the species and development of cultural guidelines for the marketplace. Note: there is not a whole lot of money in this venture as the interest in these plants is limited though I would suspect that some kind of mailer to the different universities with greenhouses might be fruitful as such a plant as an oddity would be a curious addition and educational tool at that level. This would be marginally profitable. I have other ideas as well in such an effort. But first find out if he would like to introduce the species.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

While looking for links for my Selaginella web journal I found this very interesting site with a great image of this new Resurrection Plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella tamariscina


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Hello Patrick Alexander,
Say I just ran across an image you left at the USDA of a plant of Selaginella lepidophylla!
Excellent close up shot too.
Just wondering if you know of anyone who has tried to study this species and to explain how it survives in its habitat.
The morphology is obviously related.
I would like to read any habitat studies on this species!!

Apparently besides the Chinese look-alike there is one in India as well! Called Selaginella bryopteris. Apparently there is some value and study being done on the pharmaecology of the species. Part of the Indian study indicates that a growth promoting ability with protection against heat related cell death may be a significant factor for use in assisting those subjected to heat shock! I also believe the Chinese have done some investigations into the value of their species but I do not handle pictorial languages at all!!!


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I saw an ad for Selaginella lepidophylla but hesitate as it sounds like people are just ripping them out of the wild to sell and I think they are endangered. Is it illegal to collect them from the wild? Is there anywhere one can buy one with the assurance they were cultivated?


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Hello Sharon,
Did the ad call the plant a "Ressurrection Fern" and mentioned that all you have to do is just sit it in water
and it will green up?
I have been trying to get some that were not just yanked out of the area they grow in, mostly in southern Texas and
New Mexico and into Central Mexico. Most of the plants that are being sold are harvested off of private property and I do not believe any of the laws protect them except on public property.
Unlike the creeping types of Selaginella that throw off rhizoids along their stems S. lepidophylla and some others have their rhizoids growing fro the center of the plant. What appears to be the case is that in order to grow and propagate these types of species you need the entire plant with the rhizoids INTACT as the growing points of the rhizoids are lost when the plants are ripped out.
While some observers in the field believe these plants to really be able to dry out and survive I definitely have my doubts. My belief is that if the plant dries out at all it will die entirely. What is important to note is that the plants occur in areas where condensation occurs due to temperature fluctuations from hot days to cool nights and the way this species is arranged around a central core suggests to me that the plants captures atmospheric condensation which permeates into the area where the rhizoids occurs-this is all just conjecture on my part as I am not in a position to prove or disprove it as I am down in Santa Maria and it is impossible for me to do any trekking as well for such studies.
If you are interested in growing a Selaginella then I would suggest trying Selaginella wallaceii. This is an easy species and would enjoy your shade cool garden in a spot that is humid and moist but getting some direct sun.
Here is one grower in your area that might be able to help you get some-let him know that Jerry Copeland referred you to him. He lists his plant as unavailable but perhaps he can get you some ??? Other wise you can try Selaginella bigelovii which is very common expecially in Sonomoa county just off 101. S. wallaceii is probably found towards Guerneville. There is a possibility of finding S. oregana-an epiphytic species in that area as well.
Here is a link to the USDA section on Selaginella of North America with info and images
USDA Selaginella

You can check out my photobucket site for some info on the genus.

Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginella of North America at efloras


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for all of the good info. I knew nothing about this plant or its family until I saw an ad. After reading what you sent me, I won't be buying one, but I will be reading about them from the cool websites you sent. And if I do buy one from that source you suggested, I will definitely say Jerry sent me. Thanks again for opening up yet another world of beauty and interest for me.

Sharon


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I also would love to find this Selaginella that has any ability to be grown. I also would love to get in contact with anyone to compare lists and trade.

Here is a link that might be useful: Selaginellas I Grow


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

The previous postings correctly note that commercially availible plants are mostly dead. The key here is the term "mostly." I have found that the tips of these plants often still have living tissue, and I've even been able to grow small rosettes from these tips. However, it looks like it will take 2-3 years for these small plants (0.25-1")to grow back to the 3-6" plants that come in the mail. The process is also rather drastic, but for those who have the patience and a strong stomach, here is a procedure that should give you several living specimens: Take a dry plant ball, break off all of the branches, and then throw the roots away. Next, soak all of the branches overnight in a dilute solution of fungicide. They seem to tolerate copper-based fungicides quite well. While they are soaking, prepare a pot of soil and sterilize it to the best of your ability. I borrowed an autoclave at work, but I've also had good results with peat-based cactus soil that was not sterilized. Maybe one could soak the soil in fungicide?
At any rate, after 2-3 days in the water, all of the branches should have unfurled and become flat. It should also become apparent at this time which branches are still alive and which ones are just plain dead. The living branches will be bright emerald green, while dead branches range from a pale dusty-green to brown. Collect the living branches, and then press them flat into the surface of the soil. Good surface contact is essential. Cover the pot with saran-wrap to keep the branches in a humid environment, and then wait about 6 weeks. Meanwhile, keep the soil moist, and be ready to remove moldy branches as soon as possible.
After 4-6 weeks, the branch tips will begin to grow fresh white roots into the soil. At this point, harden them off to dry air, but kept the soil moist.

Using this procedure it is possible to recover about a dozen plantlets from a single specimen,and on at least two occasions I've even had sporelings germinate from the brown lower portions of the branches. However, I have had problems with mineral buildup that eventually kills the growing tip, mosses that sprout on top of the new growth, and some kind of algae that covered the entire thing in a layer of dark green goo. For those that survive past these hurdles, you can expect your plant to form something resembling a rosette in 2-3 months, growing at a rate of about 2-4 mm per month.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Does anyone know how big it gets if you get a live one? Does it grow up or out staying sort of flat? How long can I keep my dead green one in water? I had to put my email her, please no emails to me. I will read the replys here.

Thank you


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

For S. lepidophylla the width of the plant is probably about 8 to 10 inches for an old established plant. In conditions where it gets consistent moisture then it lies flat. But it will roll up when dry conditions arise.
Do not keep your dead plant in water at all. You can place the plant in water to get it to unroll but put it into a pot filled with fine gravel. You can spray it to get it to unravel or even set it outside and in humid weather it will unfold on its own.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I bought one of these as a novelty, I thought that the plant was actually alive but it appears not, this is a big shame as I thought it would grow and maybe reproduce... It's a scam and it just opens up and turns green, nothing else. Is there any way to get the whole thing alive to the UK? I would love to own a living one, thanks!


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Vincent123, I doubt if you could acquire this particular species. You might try looking for S. tamarascina in your area as I believe it is probably being grown somewhere in Europe.
Your best bet on the ones you have bought there is to see if any of the stems have green tissue left and remove that
stem and place it onto a moist base, such as sand and peat moss and keep humid in a cool and shaded spot. I have read where some have actually gotten them to "root" out but I do not know if such attempts proved successful in the long run.
What is needed is for someone in the area where they occur, in Texas or New Mexico, to dig one up intact without disturbing the root system and grow it in a pot and then after a year or so of successful growth try dividing the plant and see what happens. I believe such a propagation will work as long as the roots are not allowed to dry out.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I've had an entirely different experience. I ordered my Jericho plant and got it today. It was a brown ball. I put it in water and over 6 hours later I'm seeing it open with greenery. It looks very healthy. About 80% of the leaves have turned green so far.
While it was soaking I found this web site and became worried, but it has made it all the more exciting as it opens and becomes greener by the minute.
I ordered this through Amazon.com through a company called Cyber Planet and I'm very happy so far.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

tacapollo, done that & they eventually died. You may try removing one from the water once it is unfurled & allow it to dry back & then resoak & repeat the cycle to see if it continues to come back green or not.
I have heard conflicting stories of plants being dried out for years & coming back but without scientific verification I file them in the dead file!


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I'd like to try to let it grow before I let it dry out. I'm thinking about trying to propogate it from a frond/leaf cutting. I'll keep this page posted on how things go.
I wish I could find a reliable scientific report online about them. All I can find are various personal sucess/unsucess stories and conflicting growing conditions such as full sun/light sun/bright light but no direct sun/full shade. I tend to go for more sun considering their natural habitat, but I've read sun fades their color. Plant in dirt/plant in gravel/leave in water....it's so confusing! LOL


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

carolina has a posting for "selaginella lepidophylla, living" at carolina.com
The shipping is air mail only and pretty expensive.
I'll give a heads up if the plant comes alive or as a dried up corpse.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

the one from carolina.com arrived like all the others. going to try to propagate from tip cuttings.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Natanada, good luck on the tip cutting method.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

The tip cutting method didn't work for me, the cuttings became fuzzy with fungi despite a fungicide; I might try again later. However I got some lepidophylla from MarsBazaar on Amazon and it unfurled into a deep green plant with fleshy leaves that doesn't look anything like the dead plants I received before. I'll look for new growth but I'm hoping this is it. I think this might just have been luck but if you're desperate, MarsBazaar might be your best chance. At least for a while I assume their stock will dry up and die similar to all the others.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

I pulled and snipped the dead branches off, most of the branches were only green on the tips; I'm trying tip cutting propagation on these. I then pulled the plant apart into three rosettes which I potted up.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Posted by terrestrial_man 9 (eyuracleo@hotmail.com) on Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 4:05
tacapollo, done that & they eventually died. You may try removing one from the water once it is unfurled & allow it to dry back & then resoak & repeat the cycle to see if it continues to come back green or not.
I have heard conflicting stories of plants being dried out for years & coming back but without scientific verification I file them in the dead file!

One of the reasons I think people get so confused on whether their plant is dead or not is that when it dries out the tissues of lepidophylla are chock full of antioxidants, which preserve the chlorophyll pigment, even though no metabolic reactions are occurring.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

If you want to experiment with the S. lepidophylla you may want to try growing it on sterile media in a very humid but airy environment with good light.
Perhaps ground up pumice in a clay pot, watered once with distilled water, drained, then placed in a terrarium with 70% to 80% humidity.
Crack open during day to vent, close at night.
Spray as necessary to keep humidity at least at 70% but
do not water the plant, just spray it Water will trickle into the mix.
Be sure that there is good light and keep the temperature range from mid 50s F into 70s F.
Maybe this will work??

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of habitat


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Yeah that sounds like a great idea. I'm hoping to get a terrarium soon I'm in a dorm so this pot was all I had available at the time. Hopefully I can set it up soon.

I can confirm new growth! The potted rosettes are growing new rhizomes that are fleshy and white. The offshoots are also responding to light.

I noticed that the plant is actually a single stem that spirals tightly upwards in a circle with offshoots producing the rosette. Each offshoot produces a rhizome at it's base, eventually growing into previous offshoots and creating a tangled net of vertical rhizomes and horizontal offshoots. I believe that old offshoots and rhizomes eventually compost, creating soil near new rhizomes. This is just a hypothesis and I'm providing this description because I haven't found anyone describe the growth pattern anywhere on the net.


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RE: Anyone grow Selaginella lepidophylla?

Congrats Natanada on getting new growth. Have not done any research into the morphology of this species though the notion of it being a simple compressed stem with the branches being the plant we see makes perfect sense. Definitely keep us informed as to your success on growing the plants you have!!


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