Lycopodium clavatum L.

common clubmoss, running clubmoss

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Common clubmoss is abundant in New England, and is known by many different common names, including running pine, staghorn, and wolf's claw clubmoss. It has been used to make wreaths and Christmas decorations. The spores have also been used as a powder for infants and to protect raw skin.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, forests, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf shape
the vegetative leaves are short and scale-like
Spore leaf arrangement
the sporophylls are located on spore cones at the tips of the shoots or branches
Form of shoot
the plant has an upright stem, and the stem has simple branches
Horizontal stem
the horizontal stem is on the surface of the ground
Leaf differences
the vegetative leaves within a node are all similar in size and shape
Teeth on leaf edges
  • the edges of the vegetative leaves have no teeth
  • the edges of the vegetative leaves have tiny teeth
Spore leaf length
1.5–3.1 mm
Leaf outline
the vegetative leaves are long and very narrow (linear)
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Gemma arrangement
    NA
    Gemma shape
    NA
    Gemma width
    0 mm
  • Leaves
    Leaf differences
    the vegetative leaves within a node are all similar in size and shape
    Leaf length
    4–6 mm
    Leaf orientation
    • the vegetative leaves spread away from the stem
    • the vegetative leaves spread slightly away from the stem, at a steep angle
    Leaf outline
    the vegetative leaves are long and very narrow (linear)
    Leaf ranks
    12 or more
    Leaf shape
    the vegetative leaves are short and scale-like
    Spore leaf length
    1.5–3.1 mm
    Teeth on leaf edges
    • the edges of the vegetative leaves have no teeth
    • the edges of the vegetative leaves have tiny teeth
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Spores or spore cones
    Cone base at stem
    the base of the spore-cone has a distinct stalk
    Cone stalk branching
    the stalks bearing the spore cones have rows of branches emerging from them
    Cone width
    3–6 mm
    Length of cone
    15–55 mm
    Number of cones
    1–5
    Quillwort itssue covering spores
    NA
    Same or different spores
    there is only one type of spore present
    Spore girdle
    NA
    Spore leaf arrangement
    the sporophylls are located on spore cones at the tips of the shoots or branches
    Spore leaf lifespan
    the sporophylls wither and fall off at the end of the growing season
    Spore leaf orientation
    the sporophylls are pressed against the spore cone
    Spore leaf shape
    the spore-bearing leaves are small and scale-like
    Spore leaf teeth
    • The edges of the spore-bearing leaves are smooth, and without teeth
    • the edges of the spore-bearing leaves have tiny teeth
    Spore texture
    the spore surface has a net-like pattern on it (reticulate)
    Sterile tip of cone
    the spore cone does not have a slender, sterile tip (the whole cone produces spores)
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branch cross-section
    the outermost level of branches are round, elliptic or semicircular in cross-section
    Branch form
    the branches are smaller than the main stem
    Constriction zones
    • there are constricted zones on the horizontal stem where the leaves are smaller smaller or closer together
    • there are constricted zones on the vertical stem where the leaves are smaller smaller or closer together
    Form of shoot
    the plant has an upright stem, and the stem has simple branches
    Horizontal stem
    the horizontal stem is on the surface of the ground

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. clavatum

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Lycopodium lagopus:
spore cones borne singly or in unstalked pairs (vs. L. clavatum, with spore cones borne 1-5 together, when more than 1 than each with a separate, stalk-like branch). Note that L. clavatum and L. lagopus sometimes occur together. When they do, L. clavatum has lighter green leaves that spread more and releases its spores later than co-occurring L. lagopus.

Synonyms

  • Lycopodium clavatum var. subremotum Vict.

Family

Lycopodiaceae

Genus

Lycopodium

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Lycopodium clavatum L. N

common clubmoss. Lycopodium clavatum L. var. subremotum Vict. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; throughout. Fields, edges, and forests. Care should be taken when collecting specimens of Lycopodium clavatum. This species occasionally, within a population, will produce solitary strobili. If these are the only portion of the plant that is collected, they will be misleading to later researchers. Lycopodium clavatum and L. lagopus sometimes occur together at the same site. In addition to the characters in the identification key, Lycopodium clavatum has trophophylls of lighter color that spread further from the shoot axis, and it releases spores later than L. lagopus.