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Lycopodiaceae: The clubmosses

Many of you may recognize clubmosses, the family of Lycopodiaceae, from a walk in the woods. They often form a fluffy carpet on forest floors with acidic soil.

From the evolutionary perspective, the clubmosses are ancient plants. Fossil finds have shown that plants very similar to today’s clubmosses already existed 350 million years ago. Not true ferns, they are classified as „fern allies“. Clubmosses differ from true ferns by their long, dichotomously branched stems, which are densely covered with tiny, scale-shaped leaves. Thereby clubmosses get a nearly coniferous appearance, why they are sometimes known as ground pine.

The clubmoss family is found around the world, from the Arctic tundra to islands off the Antarctic coast. They’re common in tropical regions, and an especially wide array of species has developed in the Andes of South America. Some of them, mostly of the genus Huperzia, are epiphytic and live in tropical rain forests. Their spike-like sporangia develop at the tips of the overhanging shoots. However, as reproducing these plants from spores is difficult, they are propagated in the Botanic Garden by cuttings.

Audio file download
Lycopodiaceae: The clubmosses (MP3, 560 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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