Lycopodium annotinum

Stiff Clubmoss

Stiff Clubmoss, Sawbill Lake, BWCAW, Photo © 2002 by Earl J.S. Rook
Stiff Clubmoss
Sawbill Lake, BWCAW
Photo © 2002 by Earl J.S. Rook

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


  • Lycopodium, from the Greek, lukos (lukos) "wolf", and podos (podos) "foot"; "wolf's foot", a reference to the resemblance of the branch tips to a wolf's paw.
  • annotinum, from the Latin annotinus, "a year old, of last year"
  • Common name from the stiff and prickly upright stems.
  • Other common names include Bristly Clubmoss, Interrupted Clubmoss, lycopode innovant, lycopode à feuilles de Genévrier (Qué), Revlummer (Swe), Stri kråkefot, Strid kråkefot (ssp. annotinum), Fjellkråkefot (Nor), Femradet Ulvefod (Dan), Riidenlieko (Fin), Lyngjafni (Is), Sprossender Bärlapp (Ger), Lus a' Bhalgair (Gaelic), Kígyózó korpafû (Hun)


  • 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: 17018


  • A running evergreen, rhizomatous clubmoss; linear, almost two dimensional in form. Height to 6"
  • Roots pallid-brown, adventitious, arising from the underside of the prostrate stem.
  • Horizontal stem to 40", branching, creeping on ground, often hidden under litter, with upright groups of branching stems.
  • Vertical stem stiff, erect; circular or oval in cross-section; bristly with few branches; upswept in the direction of growth
  • Leaves 1/3" long, downward pointing
  • Cones individual, slim and pointed, yellow, 1½", on short stems.
  • rhizomatous; elongate, or compact. Branches yellowish (green). Leaves distributed along the stems; alternate; evergreen (stiff and bristly). Blades 2–7 mm long; 0.8–1.2 mm wide; spreading from the vertical, or divaricate, or reflexed; leathery; straight, or somewhat curled (particularly along horizontal stems); linear, or elliptic; flat; with inconspicuous veins; adaxial surface glabrous. Plants reproducing by spores borne in sporangia. Sporangia in terminal cone-like structures.


  • Identifiable as
  • Distinguished from tree-like clubmosses by its linear form and horizontal stem on the surface of the ground.
  • Distinguished from other running clubmosses by its individual cones on short stems.
  • Field Marks


  • Circumboreal; Greenland and Labrador to Alaska, south to the NW United States, Colorado, and Virginia.


  • Cool, damp, shaded thickets; moist woods, bogs, and meadows; higher sites in wooded swamps.
  • Sites typically cool and shaded but occasionally dry, exposed, and rocky. Soils acidic, well to poorly drained.
  • Substrates, tundra (often in heathy areas or herb mats); imperfectly drained moist areas (sunny places); non-calcareous rocks (granite or gneiss); gravel, sand, till; with low organic content.
  • Occurrence of Stiff Clubmoss increases with increasing latitude.
  • Shade tolerant, occurring in mature forests throughout its range.
  • Stiff clubmoss spores develop from late July to early October
  • Coniferous, northern hardwoods, and mixed hardwoods habitats. May also occur in grass-sedge-heath communities.
  • Characteristic of boreal coniferous forests. It is also an indicator of White Spruce (Picea glauca)/ Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) communites in the Great Lakes States.






  • Clonal, reproducing primarily by sprouting from rhizomes. It also produces spores and a subterranean, mycorrhizal gametophyte.
  • Spores develop from late July to early October.


  • Very difficult; division may be the most successful method.


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



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004