Resurrection ferns (Pleopeltis polypodioides) are epiphytic ferns that are native to Southeastern North America. They are hardy in zones 6 through 11. Epiphytic ferns are similar to air plants. They do not grow in soil. Instead, they attach themselves to trees or rocks. They get their water and nutrients from both the surrounding air as well as any nutrients that collect on the surface to which they are attached. They are not parasitic. Epiphytic plants do not harm their plant hosts.
Resurrection ferns got their name from their ability to “come back from the dead” after long periods of dryness. During long periods with no rain, the plants go dormant. The fronds curl up and turn grayish brown. The plants look dead. In reality, they can lose up to 75% of their moisture without dying.
As soon as it rains again, the ferns appear to come back to life. The fronds uncurl and within 24 hours, they are green and healthy looking again.