The Rose of Jericho, Resurrection plant, or Anastatica hierochuntica is a member of the family Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae) and the only member of the genus Anastatica. Both of the families are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, the class Magnoliopsida. It is a small gray herb that rarely grows above 15 cm high. The plant bears minute white flowers.
After the rainy season, the Rose of Jericho dies and dries up, curling its stems into a tight ball. This protects the seeds and prevents them from being dispersed prematurely. The seeds of the plant are very hardy and can be dormant for years. When wet, the branches spread out and a fraction of the seeds are dispersed by raindrops hitting a spoon-like appendix on the seeds. If rain allows, the dispersed seeds germinate. The process of curling up and opening is completely reversible and can be repeated many times. Since the plant is annual, it dies after the wet season. However, many people believe that this is not true. Only a few hundred species of flowering plants are real "resurrection plants".
For example, the North American fern species which is most commonly sold as the Rose of Jericho can indeed be revived by a little water. After wetting, the plant turns green, hence the name "resurrection plant" is true for this plant species. Because of the potential age of the plant, it has also taken the name "dinosaur plant." Another taxonomic name for a plant described exactly as above: Selaginella pilifera.
A third species that is sold under the name of Rose of Jericho is Pallenis hierochuntica (Michon) Greuter (Asteriscus hierochunticus (Michon) Wicklund)(Asteraceae/Compositae). This plant also grows in the region from North-Africa to Asia. Occasional synonym is Saulcya hierochuntica.
In the book Until I Find You by John Irving, the mother of the protagonist Jack is a tattoo artist who often constructs tattoos of the Rose of Jericho. Her tattoos look like the flower, but it depicts a vagina, the petals being the labia.
Midwives, doulas and childbirth educators often use the Rose of Jericho as a representation of the cervix during labor. When the laboring woman enters active labor water is added to the dried and closed plant. Over the next several hours the Rose of Jericho will open, as will the womans cervix.
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