Resurrection Fern

01 Resurrection Fern_5112

While visiting Orlando, Florida it was hard not to notice ferns that seemed to be growing out of the trunks of trees.

02 Resurrection Fern_5117

This remarkable plant can lose about 75 percent of its water content during a typical dry period and possibly up to 97 percent in an extreme drought.

03 Resurrection Fern_5158

During this time, it shrivels up to a grayish brown clump of leaves. When it is exposed to water again, it will “come back to life” and look green and healthy.

04 Resurrection Fern_5113

By contrast, most other plants can lose only 10 percent of their water content before they die. Resurrection Fern’s fronds are typically 4 to 12 inches in length.

05 Resurrection Fern_5114

This plant is found throughout the Southeast. Due to its ability to withstand drought, it can be found in a variety of habitats, but it needs a host plant on which to anchor itself.

06 Resurrection Fern_5116

It seems to favor oak trees. This plant is epiphytic, which means it grows on top of other plants and surfaces but does not harm its host.

07 Resurrection Fern_5159

In 1997 Resurrection Fern was taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to watch its resurrection in zero gravity.

Third Eye Herp

Trentepohlia Alga

01 Trentepohlia_1413

While hiking in Brecksville Reservation, I noticed this bright orange coloration on a rock wall. Upon closer examination, it appeared to be made up of tiny orange “cushions.”

02 Trentepohlia_5050

The genus Trentepohlia would not, at first glance, be taken as a green alga. But this free-living species is mostly yellow to bright orange or red-brown in color, due to carotenoid pigment, which usually hides the green of the chlorophyll.

07 Trentepohlia_5047

Trentepohlia is a genus of filamentous terrestrial green alga with a worldwide distribution. It grows on rocks, old walls and the trunks and branches of trees. It does not do any damage to the surfaces that it resides on.

05 IMG_5051

Algae (singular alga) are members of a group of predominantly aquatic photosynthetic organisms. Algae are almost ubiquitous throughout the world and can be categorized ecologically by their habitats.

06 Trentepohlia_5040

Their photosynthetic pigments are more varied than those of plants, and their cells have features not found among plants and animals. Algae serve ecological roles as oxygen producers and as the food base for almost all aquatic life.

03 IMG_5048

This was a fun and colorful find on an otherwise dreary February day in northeast Ohio.

Third Eye Herp



Although hardly noticed by most of us, Liverwort is fascinating. In terms of the evolution of life on Earth, this plant type is old. About 400,000,000 years old. They existed a long, long time before more advanced plants such as flowering plants, ferns and mosses appeared on the planet.


They still utilize their primative features to this day. Instead of bearing regular roots, they have simple, one-celled appendages known as rhizoids. There is no vascular system, a characteristic of modern plants, to transport water, nutrients and other materials.


Liverworts are usually found in damp places. I often see them on the sides of rocks in woodland waterways. A number of species are aquatic; they grow on the water’s surface like mini Lily Pads.


Like the mosses, liverwort leaves are only one cell layer thick. These cells are usually isodiametric, meaning, the cell is as long as it is wide.


Liverworts got their name because long ago the people who named them felt that the curious arrangement of cells on the surface of some Liverworts was similar to the cell arrangement in actual livers taken from animals.

Third Eye Herp

Christmas Fern


During the Carboniferous Period (300 million years ago) ferns were the dominant part of the vegetation. Ferns are among the world’s most ancient plants, found as fossils in rocks 400 million years old.


Today’s coal is made largely of fossilized ferns from back in their “hey day.” Dead plants became buried underground and very gradually turned to coal under the immense pressure of the earth.


Christmas Fern is one of the few green plants you are likely to see if you hike in the eastern forests during this time of the year.


Their association with Christmas is an old one. “Back in the day” its fronds were once harvested, baled into bundles and sold to florists for wreath making.


This is a common and easy-to-identify plant. It is especially abundant on well shaded, forested hillsides near streams. Its leaflets look like tiny Christmas stockings. The rich, green leaves (fronds) of the fern are up to three feet long and are about four inches wide.

Third Eye Herp

Club Moss

club moss001

These plants can be thought of a relicts of a glorious past, as Club Moss ancestors were tree-like during the aptly-named Carboniferous Period, which, together with ferns and horsetail ancestors, formed coal.

club moss 078

This is one of the oldest living plants still around on Earth. Fossil records show evidence of relatives these plants alive on Earth over 200 million years ago. Like all primitive plants, they do not have flowers or seeds, but reproduce through spores in a cone-like structure at the end of the stem.

club moss 076

They as also known as ground pines or creeping cedar, as they resemble these trees and a green year-round. But they are not very tall – maybe an inch or so.

club moss071

The spores have also been used in pyrotechnics and photography. They are extremely flammable and will explode when ignited. They were commonly used by old time photographers when they wanted to illuminate their subject, they would ignite the spores to create a flash.

club moss 074

This small, fascinating plant with a long history also adds a bit of green to an otherwise mostly brown forest floor at this time of year.

Third Eye Herp

Scouring Rush


Scouring Rush is a primitive species that can be found throughout the world. Members of its family are commonly known as “Horsetail.”


It is easily recognized by its slender, jointed stems, which remind me of bamboo. This plant’s stems are vertically ridged and round in cross-section.

horsetail_10_30 009

“Back in the day” the stems, which have a high silica content, were used to smooth items made of wood and scour pots and pans. Since they are hollow, they were also used as straws.


The “leaves” of Scouring Rush are fused together forming ashy grey, papery bands at the joints of the plant’s stems.


Its favored habitat includes moist sites such as stream banks, flood plains and wetlands from lowland to mid-elevations.

horsetail_10_30 014

The Horsetails are related to the ferns and do not produce flowers, fruit or seeds. They reproduce by spores which are produced in a cone-like structure on the tips of the stems.

horsetail_10_30 008

This “old school” plant is the single surviving genus of a class of prehistoric plants that dates back to over 350 million years ago.

horsetail_10_30 012

Third Eye Herp

Ohio Haircap Moss

Though the forest is mostly brown these days, there are a few spots where green can be seen, like on patches of Ohio Haircap Moss. It is found on soil, logs and rocks in hardwood forests of Eastern North America, New Mexico and Europe.

Mosses have no vascular system, which is a network of tubes that transport water and nutrients. Plants without vascular systems cannot grow very large. These are actually “carpets” of individual plants. They are rarely taller than one inch high.

Another characteristic of mosses is that they require water to reproduce, rather than having a flower, like most plants. Mosses are primitive plants and like their ancestors, they are aways found in moist situations. They colonized on land almost half a billion years ago.

The leaves have a unique adaptation that allows them to better withstand dry conditions. Under moist conditions, leaves spread away from the stem and permit a maximum use of light when moisture is adequate.

However, under dry conditions, the leaves curve and twist around the stem. This behavior minimizes water loss. The central stems form tough, pliable strands that “back in the day” were used to make small brushes.

Never underestimate the power of moss. Recent research indicates the the arrival of the first land plants triggered a series of ice ages, by cooling the Earth’s climate due to reducing the atmospheric carbon levels.

Third Eye Herp