Diphasiastrum tristachyum

Blue Ground Cedar

Blue Ground Cedar, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Emmet J. Judziewicz
Blue Ground Cedar
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Emmet J. Judziewicz

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"
  • tristachyum, from the Latin, "three branched"
  • Three Branched Clubmoss, a reference to three pair branching pattern
  • Other common names include Deeproot Clubmoss, Ground Cedar, Ground Pine


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Lycopodiophyta, the Club Mosses
      • Class Lycopodiopsida, the Club Mosses
        • Order Lycopodiales, the Club Mosses
          • Family Lycopodiaceae, the Club Mosses
            • Genus Lycopodium, the Club Mosses
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 17037
  • Also known as Diphasiastrum tristachyum, Diphasium chamicyparissus, Diphasium complanatum ssp. chamicyparissus, Diphasium tristachyum, Lycopodium chamicyparissus, Lycopodium complanatum ssp. chamicyparissus, Lycopodium complanatum var. chamicyparissus, Lycopodium complanatum var. patentifolium


  • An upright, evergreen, rhizomatous clubmoss of balanced form, resembling a miniature, prehistoric tree. Height to 12"
  • Vertical stem grows as individual little trees.
    • branches rebranch to form upright, spreading fans
    • ultimate branchlets cord-like, nearly square in cross section
    • leaves blue green, tiny, and flattened
  • Horizontal stem creeping and branching well below ground.
  • Cones cylindrical, 2½" long, on slender 3½" stems borne in candelabra-like clusters of 3-4.
  • Roots sparse and hairlike


  • Identifiable as a Ground Cedar by its scale-like leaves
  • Distinguished from other Ground Cedars by its cord-like ultimate branchlets, nearly square in cross section. The other Ground Cedars have blade-like ultimate branchlets which are flat in cross section.
  • Field Marks
    • scale-like leaves
    • upright, fan-shaped branches
    • cord-like ultimate branchlets
    • blue green color
    • delicate candelabra cone clusters
    • rhizome well below the surface


  • New Brunswick to Minnesota, south to Alabama.


  • Dry, sandy, shaded coniferous woods, rocks.






  • By spore and vegetatively by rhizome


  • Very difficult.


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



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004