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Dendrites: mini still life in stone

Dendrites can fool you

Dendrites 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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