resurrection plant, name for several plants, usually of arid regions, that may apparently be brought back to life after they are dead. In reality they have hygroscopic qualities which cause them to curl up when dry and to unfold when moist. They are frequently sold in the dried condition as a novelty. The most common are the rose of Jericho and the bird's-nest moss, a club moss ( Selaginella lepidophylla ), native to Mexico and Texas, which has a rosette of flattened branches and is capable of growing if it has not been dry too long. It is also sold in Mexican markets for use as a diuretic. These plants are classified in the division Lycopodiophyta (club mosses).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.