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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Electric Ferns, Plant Of The Month

Electric Ferns, Plant Of The Month


Electric ferns, northern Australia (credit: SWP Media)


Electric ferns are beauties of tropical rainforests in northern Australia and elsewhere in SE Asia. They are remnants of the ancient genus Selaginella (spike moss) and have existed since before the dinosaurs roamed. The iridescent plants belong to a prehistoric group that have existed for more than 400M years back when the first green plants evolved on land. They still thrive in moist temperate and tropical forests.

Some Selaginellas were the size of trees with a single stem with no branches. The iridescent blue tones are produced when light is reflected off their scaly leaf surfaces. Little is understood as to the purpose this glittery blue adaptation serves. 

Electric ferns (Selaginella wilderhovii), Queensland, Australia  (credit: SWP Media)

Imagine what it would have been like to wander among forests of electric-blue trees shimmering eons before quaking aspens existed. Our 'Plant Of The Month' is also a subject for more botanical investigations. WHB


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