Diphasiastrum digitatum

Fan Clubmoss

Fan Clubmoss, Photo © 1998 by Earl J.S. Rook
Fan Clubmoss
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Diphasiastrum, from the generic name Diphasium, and astrum, "inferiority or partial resemblance", hence, "false Diphasium"
  • digitatum, from the Latin, "fingered"
  • Other common names include: Running Pine, Southern Running Pine, Southern Ground Cedar, Trailing Ground Pine, Crowfoot Clubmoss, Flattened Clubmoss, Lycopode en éventail (Qué)


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Lycopodiophyta, the Clubmosses
      • Class Lycopodiopsida, the Clubmosses
        • Order Lycopodiales, the Clubmosses
          • Family Lycopodiaceae, the Clubmosses
            • Genus Diphasiastrum, the Ground Cedars
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 512327
  • Also known as Lycopodium digitatum, Lycopodium complanatum var. flabelliforme, Lycopodium flabelliforme
  • Long confused with the circumboreal Common Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum complanatum).


  • A creeping, evergreen, rhizomatous clubmoss; giving the appearance of neat and orderly, miniature trees.
  • Vertical stem branching regularly successively to three times
    • branchlets very regularly fan-shaped, generally on a horizontal plane, flat in cross section, blade-like, their undersides dull, pale, flat; their uppersides green, flat, shiny.
    • annual bud constrictions very rare.
  • Horizontal stem on or just below the surface
  • Cones 2-4 per upright shoot, ½"-1½" long exclusive of elongated sterile tip which occurs on about half the specimens. Cone is blunt if sterile tip absent. Cone stalks, generally 2, 1¾"-5" long.


  • Identifiable as a Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum species) by its scale-like leaves.
  • Distinguished from Blue Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum tristachyum) by its blade-like ultimate branchlets, flat in cross section. The Blue Ground Cedar has cord-like ultimate branchlets which are square in cross section.
  • Distinguished from common Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum complanatum) by its very regularly fan-shaped branchlets. Common Ground Cedar forms tangled masses of branchlets.
  • Field Marks
    • fan-shaped branches on horizontal plane
    • branchlets blade-like with flat cross section
    • medium green, not blue green in color
    • shallow rhizome


  • Ontario to Newfoundland, south to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
  • The most abundant species of Diphasiatrum in North America
  • At the northwestern limit of its range in the BWCA.


  • Dry to moist sandy to silty areas in coniferous and mixed forests.
  • Coniferous and hardwood forests and second growth, shrubby or open fields





  • Much used for holiday decoration as wreaths.



  • Very difficult.


  • Clubmosses can make attractive ground covers, but they do not transplant well



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004