An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions/Selaginellaceae

Family 10.   SelaginellàceaeUnderw.Native Ferns 103.   1881.
Selaginella Family.

Terrestrial, annual or perennial, moss-like plants with branching stems and scale-like leaves, which are many-ranked and uniform, or 4-ranked and of two types spreading in two planes. Sporanges 1-celled, solitary in the axils of leaves which are so arranged as to form more or less quadrangular spikes, some containing 4 megaspores (megasporanges), others containing numerous microspores (microsporanges), which develop into small prothallia, those from the megaspores bearing archegones, those from the microspores antherids.

The family consists of the following genus:


1.   SelaginéllaBeauv.Prodr. Aetheog. 101.   1805.

Characters of family.  [Name diminutive of Selago, an ancient name of some Lycopodium.]

About 340 species, widely distributed, most abundant in the tropics. Besides the following some five others occur in western North America. Type species: Lycopodium selaginoides L.

Stem-leaves all alike, many-ranked.
Stems compact with rigid leaves; spikes quadrangular. 1. S. rupestris.
Stems slender; leaves lax, spreading; spikes enlarged, scarcely quadrangular. 2. S. selaginoides.
Stem-leaves of 2 kinds, 4-ranked, spreading in 2 planes. 3. S. apus.


1.  Selaginella rupéstris  (L.) Spring.
Rock Selaginella.   Festoon-pine.   Fig. 115.

Lycopodium rupestre L. Sp. Pl. 1101. 1753.
Selaginella rupestris Spring in Mart. Fl. Bras. I²: 118. 1840.

Stems densely tufted, with occasional sterile runners and sub-pinnate branches, 1'−3' high commonly curved when dry. Leaves rigid, appressed-imbricated, 1" or less long, linear or linear-lanceolate, convex on the back, more or less ciliate, many-ranked, tipped with a distinct transparent awn; spikes sessile at the ends of the stem or branches, strongly quadrangular, 6"−12" long, about 1" thick; bracts ovate-lanceolate, acute or acuminate, broader than the leaves of the stem; megasporanges and microsporanges borne in the same spikes, the former more abundant.

On dry rocks, New England and Ontario to Georgia and the middle West. Ascends to at least 2000 ft. in Virginia. Dwarf club-moss. Christmas-evergreen. Resurrection-plant. Aug.−Oct.


  2.  Selaginella selaginoìdes  (L.) Link.
Low Selaginella.   Fig. 116.

Lycopodium selaginoides L. Sp. Pl. 1101.   1753.
S. spinosa Beauv.Prodr. Aetheog. 112.   1805.
Selaginella selaginoides Link.   Fil. Hort. Berol. 158.   1841.

Sterile branches prostrate-creeping, slender, ½'-2' long, the fertile erect or ascending, thicker, 1'-3' high, simple; leaves lanceolate, acute, lax and spreading, sparsely spinuloseciliate, 1"-2" long; spikes solitary at the ends of the fertile branches, enlarged, oblong-linear, subacute, 1' or less long, 2"-2½" thick ; bracts of the spike lax, ascending, lanceolate or ovatelanceolate, strongly ciliate.

On wet rocks, Labrador to Alaska, south to New Hampshire, Michigan and Colorado. Also in northern Europe, Greenland and Asia. Mountain-moss. Prickly club-moss. Summer.


3.  Selaginella àpus  (L.) Spring.
Creeping Selaginella.   Fig. 117.

Lycopodium apodum L. Sp. Pl. 1105.   1753.
S. apus Spring in Mart. Fl. Bras. 1²: 119.   1840.

Annual, light green, stems prostrate-creeping, 1'-4' long, much branched, flaccid, angled on the face. Leaves minute, membranous, of 2 kinds, 4-ranked, spreading in 2 planes; upper leaves of the lower plane spreading, the lower reflexed, ovate, acute, serrulate, not distinctly ciliate; leaves of the upper plane ovate, short-cuspidate; spikes 3"-8" long, obscurely quadrangular; bracts ovate, acute, sometimes serrulate, acutely keeled in the upper half; megasporanges more abundant toward the base of the spike.

In moist shaded places, often among grass, Maine and Ontario to the Northwest Territory, south to Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Ascends to 2200 ft. in Virginia. July-Sept.