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.
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.
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.