These are just wonderful mini-landscapes; amazing pictures created by nature often referred to as “fossil tree ferns” and I think they are absolutely fascinating.

Dendritic crystal growth is what they actually are and this type of formation can also be seen when looking closely at snowflakes and frost patterns.

Solhofener Steinbruch Frauenberg by J.Stiegler


The word comes from the Greek “Dendron” meaning tree.

In paleontology these crystal forms are sometimes mistaken for fossil plants.

The ones on my site are Manganese dendrites on a limestone bedding and are from Solnhofen in Germany.


The patterns form when water which is rich in Manganese and iron flows into fissures in the layers of limestone and other rocks depositing dendritic crystals as the liquid flows through.


Dendrites display a multi-branching tree-like form and the term ‘dendritic’ is commonly used in neurology to describe the branched projection of a neuron, the thread-like extensions of a nerve cell which carry messages.



Each one is unique, and often there are dendritic formations on both sides, because the rock splits easiest where the water has ingressed.


CLICK HERE to see a whole gallery of individual dendrites.