In vacations I was able to collect a resurrection plant – Selaginella belonging to the group Pteridophytes from Dehradun (India). Selaginella is commonly known as ‘spike moss’ or ‘club moss’. Mostly the species prefer moist and shady places, but a few species are also found growing in xerophytic conditions on rocks and are sold under the name of resurrection plants. They curl and become ball like when dry and again become green and fresh when moisture is available. When dry they can be put in narrow mouthed bottles, and on pouring water, these swell up – a beauty.
The plant body has profusely branched, delicate stem bearing small and simple leaves. Each leaf has a single unbranched midrib and a serrated margin and a pit at the base called glossopodium from where a small ligule or tongue-like structure arises.
Serrated margin of the leaf (on left) Glossopodium (on right)
The leaves near the tip bear sporangia and are called sporophylls and are aggregated into a strobilus. The strobili are bisporangiate forming microspores in microsporangia and megaspores in megasporangia. Under the foldscope I was able to see spores being released from sporangia.
I was amazed to see the difference in size of microspore and megaspores. Megaspores were very large in size, while microspores were smaller in size. Microspores were somewhat spherical in shape, while megaspores were tetrahedral.
Strobili and sporophylls
Microsporangium and its dehiscence