Dendrites: mini still life in stone

Dendrites can fool you.  They look just like fossilized plant matter.  However, they are mineral formations, not plant fossils — and one of my favorite mineral formations!  The word dendrite comes from the Greek word dendron, meaning tree, and also describes the branched projections of a nerve cell.

A dendrite is a superficial deposit of manganese oxide that has crystallized in a multi-branching tree-like pattern.  This pattern is what fools us into thinking they are plant fossils.  Dendrites form as water rich in manganese and iron flows along tiny cracks between layers of limestone and other rock types.  Dendrites may also consist of iron oxides and other minerals, and can also form in quartz materials like agate and jasper. When it is found in agate and opal, it is called “dendritic agate” and “dendritic opal.”

Metaphysically, stones with dendrites resonate with blood vessels and nerves.  They help heal the nervous system and conditions such as neurdendrites from Germanyalgia. Dendrites can help with skeletal disorders, reverse capillary degeneration and stimulate the circulatory system.  It is the stone of plenitude; it also helps create a peaceful environment and encourage the enjoyment of each moment.  Dendrites deepen your connection to the earth and can bring stability in times of strife or confusion.

We have some beautiful dendrite specimens of dendrites in marl (calcareous mudstone), a sedimentary rock from Solenhofen, Germany that are 160 million years old.  Each piece is different, a mini still life in stone:  framed silhouettes of  trees, ferns, seaweeds, and bushes.  These dendrites are a great gift for anyone with a green thumb or who has a strong connection to nature.

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13 Responses to Dendrites: mini still life in stone

  1. debby thomason says:

    Hi Susan! I grew up in Charlottesville Va. but my dad lived in Palmyra Va., approximately 50 miles SW of Richmond

  2. Susan Landa says:

    Very cool, Debby! Where did you grow up?

  3. debby thomason says:

    I have loved rocks for years. My fathers property “burps” rocks constantly. mostly quartz and some sort of orange and purple rocks. there is a large area of rocks that seem to be softer. as i was collecting one day for my raised flower beds, i tossed one of these softer rocks and it split in two. inside was what i thought was a plant fossil. now i know what it is! its beautiful! i have it displayed in my living room . it is quite the conversation piece.

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  5. michael silvia says:

    While rock hunting along the Kancamacus river in Lincoln N.H. We, found a rock, with fern like prints on it. At first We, thought it was a fossil plant .Upon doing further research it was a Dendrite….. What a great find for our rock collection… IF your a ROCK HOUND and in the GRAFTON N.H. area ( RUGGLES MINE ) stop in for a good time.. IT was our first time and will be going again in Sept-OCt…..Happy MIning..MIchael AND Helena…….

  6. Pingback: Wooster Geologists » Blog Archive » Wooster’s Pseudofossil of the Week: Manganese dendrites from Germany

  7. Sandy says:

    Yesterday I purchased a Dendite and sterling silver pendant. It was different than anything I had ever seen. I had never heard of Dendrite before and you provided me with all the information I needed to know. Thank you.
    I wore it today for the first time and received several compliments. It is quite unique, and I like it very much. Thanks again.
    Sandy

  8. Susan Landa says:

    Thanks very much!

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  12. Susan says:

    I am looking for the name of a natural stone formation that looks like a fossil or a cast of a little seedpod. Thanks for any help you can give.