Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Resurrection Plants

Resurrection plants can allow their tissues to desiccate when water isn't available, then reviving completely when water becomes available.

Borya nitida, a geophyte, a member of the Kwongan Sandplain Flora,  is an example of resurrection plants, that is found widely on exposed outcrops. This plant survives desiccation of the complete plant, rehydrating and carrying on with its life as soon as the winter rain arrives, growing, flowering and setting seed. It grows during the short winters then the surface parts die off in summer, surviving as below ground structures such as corms and stem tubers. These plants grow in small areas of shallow soil in granite outcrops, the sort of place where heat and desiccation are are very severe in summer. The underground structures are specialised, acting somewhat like seeds, storing large amounts of carbohydrate and protein, and like many seeds, they can withstand desiccation. Adventitious roots sprout and a shoot begins growing as soon as the structure is wet.

The mosses and liverworts in the biological duricrust that are found over large parts Australian arid zone, are resurrection plants, desiccating in dry times then reactivate as soon water becomes available. A survival mechanism has been evolved by Asterella drummondii, a common liverwort in many arid zone crusts, it has a Y-shaped thallus with plate-like scales on its lower surface. On drying, the thallus sides curl up to enclose the upper surface, the scales protecting the plant until water returns to reactivate it.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Mary E. White, Earth Alive, From Microbes to a Living Planet, Rosenberg Publishing Pty. Ltd., 2003


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading