Huperzia selago

Fir Clubmoss

Fir Clubmoss, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Dennis W. Woodland
Fir Clubmoss
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Dennis W. Woodland

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


  • Huperzia, for Johann Peter Huperz (d. 1816) a German fern horticulturist
  • selago, from the Greek, selagh (selage), "flashing"
  • Fir Clubmoss, from the resemblance of its needle-like leaves to those of the Firs (Abies sp.)
  • Other common names include: Cliff Clubmoss, Little Clubmoss, Mountain Clubmoss, Rock Clubmoss, Northern fir-moss, huperzie slagine (Qué), Lopplummer, luslummer, lusgräs (Swe), Lusegras, (Nor), Otteradet Ulvefod (Dan), Ketunlieko (Fin), Skollafingur (Is), Tannen-Bärlapp (Ger), Részegkorpafû (Hun), Wroniec widlasty (Pol)


  • 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: 202452
  • Also known as Lycopodium selago, Plananthus selago, Urostachys selago
  • Selago was original genera for all clubmosses


  • A small, clump forming, evergreen, clubmoss.
  • Roots pallid-brown, traveling downward in stem cortex some distance before emerging at soil level.
  • Horizontal stem below ground.
  • Shoots erect, upswept, close to equal length, 3¼"-4¾"; branches few. Indistinct annual constrictions present. Bulblet bearing branchlets produced at end of annual growth. dull yellow green; lustrous and evergreen.
  • Leaves of mature upper portion slightly smaller than leaves of juvenile lower portion. Largest leaves triangular, widest at base, 4mm-7.5mm; smallest leaves lanceolate, 3.5mm-5mm; edges almost smooth; stomates on both surfaces, numerous on upper surface, with 30-90 per half leaf.
  • Cones absent; spore cases nestled in base of upper leaves.
  • Bulblets (gemmae) 4-5mm x 3-4.5mm


  • 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 with weak annual constrictions (H. appalachiana lacks annual constrictions)
    • more than 30 stomates per half-leaf on upper surface (H. porophila has 25 or fewer)


  • Circumboreal; Greenland to Alaska, south to Washington, Missouri, and Alabama.
  • Also Europe and Asia


  • Cool, damp, shaded ledges, hillsides; rarely in woods or swamps.
  • Terrestrial in sandy borrow pits, ditches, lakeshore swales, and conifer swamps, rarely on acidic, igneous rock or calcareous coast cliffs.






  • 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 3 July, 2004