Huperzia appalachiana

Appalachian Clubmoss

Appalachian Clubmoss, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Emmet J. Judziewicz
Appalachian Clubmoss
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Emmet J. Judziewicz

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


  • Huperzia, for Johann Peter Huperz (d. 1816) a German fern horticulturist
  • appalachiana, "of the Appalachians"
  • Common name from the eastern mountains where this clubmoss is found, though it is absent from the central Appalachians.
  • Other common names include Appalachian Fir-clubmoss, Mountain Fir-moss, Lycopode des Appalaches (Qué)


  • 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 Huperzia, the Fir Club Mosses
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 507547
  • Hybridizes with both of the more common North Country Huperzia, Shining Clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula) and Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago).


  • A compact, clustered clubmoss of the North Shore and Superior Highlands.
  • Roots produced in tip of shoot, growing downward in cortex to emerge at soil level.
  • Shoots erect, clustered, 2½"-4" tall; leaves of mature upper portion markedly smaller than leaves in juvenile lower portion; annual constrictions absent. Bulblet bearing branchlets produced throughout mature portion.
  • Leaves narrowly triangular with smooth edges, green to yellow green, not lustrous. Stomates present on both surfaces, numerous (35-60 per half leaf) on upper surface.
    • leaves on juvenile, lower portion of stem larger (4mm-6mm); ascending to spreading in form
    • leaves on mature, upper portion of stem smaller (2mm-3.5mm); ascending to appressed
  • Bulblets (gemmae) 3-4mm x 2.5-3.5mm


  • Identifiable as Huperzia by
    • absence of horizontal stems
    • clustered upright shoots; not tree-like
    • absence of spore-bearing cones
  • Distinguished from other North Country Huperzia species by
    • leaves about 1/8" long with smooth edges (H. lucidula has larger, 3/8" leaves with toothed edges)
    • shoots about 4" long (H. lucidula has longer, 6" shoots)
    • shoots without annual constrictions (H. selago and H. porophila have weak annual constrictions)
    • more than 30 stomates per half-leaf on upper surface (H. porophila has 25 or fewer)


  • Several non-contiguous areas of eastern North America, including Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, the Gaspé, Nova Scotia, New England, the southern Appalachians, and the shores of Lake Superior; possibly Europe.
  • In our area, not likely to be found very far inland from Superior.


  • On damp, acidic, igneous rocks; exposed cliffs and talus slopes.






  • By spores.
  • Huperzia species also reproduce by bulblets (gemma) produced at base of upper leaves which, when mature, fall to ground and sprout to form new plants.


  • Very difficult.


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



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004