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Selaginella lepidophylla (syn. Lycopodium lepidophyllum) is a species of desert plant in the spikemoss family (Selaginellaceae). S. lepidophylla is noted for its ability to survive almost complete desiccation; during dry weather in its native habitat, its stems curl into a tight ball and uncurl only when exposed to moisture. The outer stems of Selaginella lepidophylla bend into circular rings in a relatively short period of desiccation, whereas inner stems curl slowly into spirals due to the hydro-actuated strain gradient along their length. It is native to the Chihuahuan Desert.
Selaginella lepidophylla is easily confused with Anastatica: both species are resurrection plants and form tumbleweeds, and they share the common name "rose of Jericho".
This plant is sold as a novelty item as a bare root in its dry state. It can be revived with only a little water. After wetting, the plant turns green, hence the name "resurrection plant". The ability of the plant to survive extreme desiccation was noted by Spanish missionaries when they reached the New World, including the area that was to become the United States. The missionaries used the plant to demonstrate to potential native converts the concept of being reborn.
This plant has been used as a herbal medicine. An infusion (tea) is made by steeping a tablespoon of dried material in hot water and the tea is used as an antimicrobial in cases of colds and sore throat. Common names for this in Spanish include doradilla (little golden one) and flor de piedra (stone flower).
- Lebkuecher, J. & W. Eckmeier (June 1993). "Physiological Benefits of Stem Curling for Resurrection Plants in the Field". Ecology 74 (4): 1073–1080. doi:10.2307/1940477.
- Rafsanjani, A., V. Brulé, T. L. Western and D. Pasini (January 2015). "Hydro-Responsive Curling of the Resurrection Plant Selaginella lepidophylla". Scientific Reports 5: 8064. doi:10.1038/srep08064.
- "Selaginella lepidophylla". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- "ITIS Standard Report Page: Selaginella lepidophylla". Itis.gov. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- William Francis Ganong (1921). A Textbook of Botany for Colleges. MacMillan Co. p. 604. ISBN 1-153-17574-6. page 505-506
- Curtin, L.S.M. and M. Moore. 1997. Healing Herbs of the Upper Rio Grande. Western Edge Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- Schenck, George. 1997. Moss Gardening. Portland: Timber Press
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- Selaginella lepidophylla www.eFloras.org
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