Page author: Ben Legler
Huperzia occidentalis
western clubmoss
Note the widely spreading, broad leaves, and the tan sproangia in the leaf axils.
Leaves are clearly broadest above the middle.
WTU specimens
Other herbaria
WTU images

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

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Large moss-like plants; stems erect from short-creeping bases, sparsely branched, 4-20 cm tall, leafy throughout; dark green.


Dark green, 6-10 mm long, mostly oblanceolate (widest above middle), minutely few-toothed, arranged in tight spirals around stem, widely spreading, giving the stem a prickly look.


Spores contained in sporangia, which resemble small tan kidney-shaped pouches distributed along much of stem, one sporangium per leaf axil. Also with gemmae (small flattened vegetative propagules) in 1 pseudowhorl near tip of stem.

Identification Notes:

The oblanceolate leaves that are clearly widest above the middle distinguish H. occidentalis from our other 2 Huperzia species, both of which have lanceolate leaves that are widest at the base. Also note the habitat in humid shaded conifer forest.

Accepted Name:
Huperzia occidentalis (Clute) Kartesz & Gandhi
Publication: Phytologia. 70: 201. 1991. 1991.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Huperzia porophila (F.E. Lloyd & Underw.) Holub, misapplied [FNA2]
Lycopodium selago L., misapplied [HC]
Lycopodium selago L. var. patens (P. Beauv.) Desv., misapplied
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Huperzia occidentalis in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Huperzia occidentalis checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Huperzia occidentalis atlas page.

CalPhotos: Huperzia occidentalis photos.

USDA Plants: Huperzia occidentalis information.

13 photographs:
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