lycopodium obscurum (?) club moss

beth11(z7 southern MD)February 1, 2005

Hi all,

I've been poking around my woods and came upon a stand of tree club moss, I believe. Looks like little pine trees, but happily sporing away. I didn't know if this was a rare moss or not. I noticed it a few years ago, but it is really thriving. Can you point me to a site that gives additional info? Googleing is not getting me far.



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joepyeweed(5b IL)

there was a thread about this moss awhile back. and i think it is considered threatened rather than endangered. but still it is a rare find - lucky for you.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 6:59PM
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beth11(z7 southern MD)

Cool! I thought I read that some time back on a different group. I'll see if I can dig up the thread here. Otherwise I'll see if anyone else responds. I'm just happy it is spreading so readily!


    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 7:51PM
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There are a number of Clubmosses in the Genus Lycopodium, Huperzia & Lycopodiella present in the Eastern US. For distribution and some thumbnails go to the link below and do a Scientific Name search for Lycopodium. The Missouri Plants site has good color photos of Lycopodium digitatum and obscurum (

Here is a link that might be useful: PLANTS National Database

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 4:04AM
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some more info at this site.

Here is a link that might be useful: lycopodium species

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 11:17AM
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DonBrinser(z6 MD)

Hi Beth11 - I used to live in Calvert & St Mary's; those moss were supposed to be kept secret! Just kidding - but yes, I know several groups of lycododium in S.MD. I believe it's correct that they're threatened, not endangered, but mostly just a joy to find! Notice if they're associated with other more northern zone plants; usually the case. You're area has some odd little pockets of native zone 6 stuff.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 3:06PM
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amphibiousboy(z3 WI)

Hey Lycopodium is a rare plant. Very cool, it was always one of my favorite. If you want to transplant a thread (make certain such an activity is legal and the species you are considering isn't protected) make certain you keep the rhizome wet. During the summer, too long in air is bad for them, they dry out very easily.

Yet strangely i know people up here who have made wreathes out of threads of them and hung them out door in our cold winters. In the spring they place them back on the forest floor and they survive.

The pollen of lycopodium is extremely flammable when mixed with air. It is sold through science lab companies as lycopodium powder. magic supplies stores also sell it under the name FLASH POWDER at times. If you get ahold of some, sprinkle a pinch of it over a flame and it will make a small fireball. It was even used for a while as one of the ingredients in the flash trays of the old fashioned cameras. Now it provides amusement for science teachers and students for it's ability to mimic grain elevator explosions and flame throwers.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 9:30AM
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Threatened and RTE status varies by state. Refer to link for Maryland's listing.
Clubmosses are a joy to find in undisturbed woodlands. When I find them I appreciate them, observe them and leave them alone, intact and undisturbed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maryland's RT&E site

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:18AM
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What an opportunity you have! Information on any Northern hemisphere club moss species seems restricted to taxonomy
only. There is very little else apart from superficial
imaging. If you have a digital I would like to recommend
that you take an in-depth photo-journal of the population
that lives on your property.
If interested then the way I would start is to take images of the general area then narrow down towards the population and then image the entire population.
then I would remove any loose litter from an area adjunct to
the population and image that as well and do a close up of the litter itself.
You will need to observe and determine the nature of the soil, the litter, and the surrounding plants during all seasons of the year if possible, making note of amount of light, rainfall history, winds or any particular environmental factor that caught your interest. This may sound like a whole lot but it is not all that much time to accomplish and you could contribute quite a bit to the lack of such info on line. If you happen to have any colleges in the area that have botany departments check with them to see if they have any professors who have backgrounds in lower vascular plants for additional ideas.
It is a unique opportunity.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 2:18AM
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well_drained(z6a MA)

Interesting thread. I've never thought of club mosses in general as rare, at least not in New England. Maybe it is a matter of where you are, or the particular species. It seems like most established wooded areas I walk in have one or more species of ground pine (Lycopodum sp.) and/or ground cedar (now called Diphasiastrum, according to the website given above). Fortunately I found a mail-order nursery in Western Mass. that sells both Lycopodium obscurum and a ground cedar species formerly called Lycopodium complanatum (don't know new name). I planted them last year and they seem to be doing well -- new L. obscurum shoots were popping up here and there at the end of last summer, and both species stayed green all winter. The only thing they seem not to like is lots of direct sun.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 4:24PM
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I don't think lycopodium are threated or endangered in Maryland.
It is not uncommon to see them in second growth woods. I always see the same two kinds. One is darker green and looks more needly like a christas tree and the other is a lighter green and looks more like a cedar in texture. Some common names are actually ground pine and ground cedar. They are pretty much impossible to transplant.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 10:35AM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

so pretty

Here is a link that might be useful: Lycopodium obscurum club moss

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 7:43PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

Where can it be bought?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 8:01PM
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try ebay

Here is a link that might be useful: ebay

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 10:48PM
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eBay doesn't have many sources of non-tropical clubmoss, but please quote any reliable source you know off.

Also note that clubmoss isn't a moss at all (like red cedar isn't a cedar etc.). Clubmosses are more related to ferns and horsetails. Unlike a moss it has vascular tissue.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:11PM
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