Lycopodiaceae
Club-Moss Family

General: Low, perennial, moss-like plants with creeping to tufted stems bearing scattered, mostly unbranched roots.
Leaves: Spirally arranged or 4-ranked, small, simple, lanceolate to linear or scalelike, each with a single vascular trace.
Spores: Spores contained in sporangia, which resemble small, tan, kidney-shaped pouches, either 1 sporangium per leaf axil or the sporangia in the axils of modified leaves (sporophylls), these aggregated into terminal cone-like structures. Huperzia species also reproduce by gemmae (small flattened vegetative propagules) in 1 or several pseudowhorls near branch tips or along length of branches.

Identification Tips: See also Selaginellaceae. Most Selaginellaceae species in North America have quadrangular spore cones with the sporophylls in 4 rows (in Lycopodiaceae the spore cones are terete with the sporophylls spirally arranged, or the sporangia are interspersed among normal leaves). Selaginella selaginoides, with spirally arranged sporophylls, differs from Lycopodiaceae by its softly spinulose-dentate leaf margins and dimorphic spores.

Comments: Lycophytes represent the oldest extant lineage of vascular plants, with members dating back at least 390 million years. Although often grouped with ferns, they represent an indepentent group no more closely related to ferns than are other extant vascular plants. Lycopodiaceae is sometimes split into two families, Huperziaceae (containing Huperzia s.l.) and Lycopodiaceae (remaining genera).

6 genera
12 species
Show only taxa with photos
Order by:
Scientific name
Common name
Display as:
Dendrolycopodium dendroideumprickly tree clubmoss, tree ground-pine
Distribution: Widespread across boreal forests of North America, south to northern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and NE U.S. Also found in Asia. In Washington, known from scattered locations in the west Cascades and in Pend Oreille county.
Habitat: Woodlands and open brushy areas. In Washington, found mostly among rock or talus with thick moss or duff layers, often under brush or on edges of forest. At mid elevations in the mountains.
Origin: Native
Diphasiastrum alpinumalpine clubmoss ground-pine
Distribution: Alaska to northern Washington, east to northern Idaho and northwest Montana.
Habitat: Rocky slopes, dry heath meadows, and open conifer forests at high elevations. In Washington, often found associated with Phyllodoce, Cassiope, and Vaccinium in dry heath soils.
Origin: Native
Diphasiastrum alpinum Diphasiastrum sitchensehybrid clubmoss
Distribution: Known from British Columbia south to Oregon and east to Montana, also in Greenland and Newfoundland.
Habitat: Upper montane coniferous forest and brushy areas, and subalpine and alpine meadows. In Washington, has been found in subalpine-alpine heath meadows and on shaded mossy mineral soil below conifers on high montane roadcuts.
Origin: Native
Diphasiastrum complanatumground cedar, trailing ground-pine
Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington, primarily in the northern half of the state; Alaska south to Washington, Idaho and Montana, east across Canada and the northern U.S. to the Atlantic Coast.
Habitat: Moist to dry, usually coniferous forests, rocky slopes and sandy openings, low to mid-elevations.
Origin: Native
Spores: Sporing structures in summer and fall
Diphasiastrum sitchenseAlaskan clubmoss, Sitka clubmoss
Distribution: Alaska to Oregon, east to Idaho and Montana, and across central Canada to northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada; also in eastern Asia from Japan north.
Habitat: Subalpine-alpine meadows and open rocky areas at mid-to high elevations in the mountains; occasionally in conifer forest or under brush.
Origin: Native
Huperzia continentalisalpine firmoss
Distribution: In the Olympics and Cascades mountains in Washington; primarily Alaska to Washington, east to Montana; also in Wyoming and Colorado, scattered across northern Canada and on Greenland.
Habitat: Subalpine and alpine meadows, heath, and rocky slopes. Usually at high elevations.
Origin: Native
Huperzia miyoshianafir clubmoss
Origin: Native
Huperzia occidentaliswestern clubmoss
Distribution: Coastal ranges from SE Alaska and SW Yukon south to Oregon; also in SE British Columbia, northern Idaho, and northwest Montana. Not found outside North America. In Washington, found from the west side of the Cascades west to the coast.
Habitat: In shaded conifer forest, usually where moist such as along streams and in depressions; rooted on decaying logs, duff, or soil. Low to mid elevations.
Origin: Native
Lycopodiella inundatabog clubmoss, marsh clubmoss, northern bog clubmoss
Distribution: Occurring west of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska south to California; in scattered locations in north central Canada; from Minnesota and Ontarioa east to the Atlantic Coast.
Habitat: Wet areas, pond and lakeshores from low to middle elevations in the mountains.
Origin: Native
Lycopodium clavatumcommon clubmoss, elk-moss, stag, ground pine, running pine
Distribution: Both sides of the Cascades in Washington; British Columbia south to California in western North America; circumboreal.
Habitat: Moist coniferous woods and swamps.
Origin: Native
Spores: Produces spores April-October
Lycopodium lagopusptarmigan clubmoss, one-cone ground-pine
Origin: Native
Spinulum annotinuminterrupted clubmoss, stiff clubmoss
Distribution: Alaska to Oregon, east to Montana and south in the Rockies to New Mexico; across Canada and in eastern United States from Maine to Virginia
Habitat: Moist forests, bog edges and rocky areas, lowlands to subalpine
Origin: Native