Northern firmoss

Huperzia selago

''Huperzia selago'', the northern firmoss or fir clubmoss, is a vascular plant in the family Lycopodiaceae. It has a circumpolar distribution in temperate and boreal regions in both hemispheres.

Leaves are of two types: fertile (sporophylls) bearing spore sacs, and sterile (trophophylls) lacking spores. Both are evergreen, pointed at the tip, narrowly triangular, broadest at or near the base, with stomates (pores) on both the upper and lower surface, the larger leaves with 30 to 90 per half leaf on the upper surface. Leaves are hollow at least at the base, giving them a thickened look. The largest leaves are 4 to 7.5 mm (to ~1/3 inch) long, the shortest leaves are around the annual bud, only slightly smaller than the largest leaves. In sunny habitats, leaves are mostly ascending to appressed and often turn yellow; in shadier habitats, leaves tend to be more ascending to spreading and green.

Leaves may appear whorled or nearly so but are spirally arranged with about 8 leaves in a cycle, more or less evenly spaced and may appear as columns when viewed from the side of the stem (8-ranked), though not always strongly so. Leaves are more or less the same length all along the stem, the shorter leaves not usually marking the annual constriction very conspicuously. Stems are single or multiple from the base, unbranched or with forked branches, the branches mostly erect, the lower stem initially erect but may become prostrate with age then rise at the tip (decumbent).

Spore sacs (sporangia) develop on most of the current year's growth, one sac attached to the base of each sporophyll on the upper stem and branches, turning yellow as they mature and light brown when dry, splitting open to release the spores in late summer into fall. Old, dried sporangia from previous years persist on the stem.

Leaf-like propagules (gemmae) are also produced on claw-shaped branchlets in a single whorl around the tip of the current year's growth. Gemmae are flattened fan-shaped, 4 to 5 mm long with 3 main leaves, the central leaf oblong and the 2 lateral leaves slightly broader and rounded to somewhat angular, broadest near the tip, 1.5 to 2 mm wide, and all 3 with a minute point at the tip (mucronate).
Huperzia selago with developing sporophylls. Huperzia selago (Fir Clubmoss) growing in a mixed spruce/fir/aspen/birch forest in full shade at the edge of a vernal pool. Photo taken on June 1, 2005. Geotagged,Huperzia selago,Lycopodium selago,Minnesota,United States,clubmoss,fir clubmoss,sporophylls

Appearance

Shoots erect, indeterminate, 8--12 cm, becoming short-decumbent; leaves of mature portion slightly smaller than leaves of juvenile portion (more pronounced in sun form); indistinct annual constrictions present (more pronounced in shade form); juvenile growth erect. Leaves spreading-ascending (shade) to appressed-ascending (sun) in mature portion, more reflexed in juvenile portion, green (shade) to yellow-green (sun), lustrous; largest leaves triangular, widest at base, 4--7.5 mm; smallest leaves lanceolate, 3.5--5 mm; margins almost entire, papillate; stomates on both surfaces, numerous on adaxial surface, 30--90 per 1/2 leaf. Gemmiferous branchlets produced in 1 pseudowhorl at end of annual growth; gemmae 4--5 X 3--4.5 mm, lateral leaves 1.5--2 mm wide, broadly acute. Spores 29--37 µm. 2 n = 268.
Huperzia selago Huperzia selago on an exposed talus slope growing in a mat of Reindeer Lichens (Cladina spp.). Sporophylls and gemmae are present on all the shoots. Cladina,Geotagged,Huperzia selago,Northern firmoss,Summer,United States,clubmoss,gemmae,lichens,sporophylls,talus slope

Distribution

It is found in the northern parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is found in sandy pits, ditches, along lakeshores, and in conifer swamps.

In Europe, its range extends from Svalbard to the mountains of northern Spain and Italy, and from the British Isles east through central Asia to the Kamchatka peninsula, Japan, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Greenland and Iceland.

In the northeastern United States, it is found in boreal habitat, but not alpine zones.
Huperzia selago Huperzia selago on an exposed north-facing talus slope with Common Polypody Fern (Polypodium virginianum) and growing in a mat of Reindeer Lichens (Cladonia rangiferina and other Cladina spp.). Geotagged,Huperzia selago,Northern firmoss,Polypodium virginianum,Summer,United States,clubmoss,lichens,talus slope

Habitat

It is found in the northern parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is found in sandy pits, ditches, along lakeshores, and in conifer swamps.

In Europe, its range extends from Svalbard to the mountains of northern Spain and Italy, and from the British Isles east through central Asia to the Kamchatka peninsula, Japan, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Greenland and Iceland.

In the northeastern United States, it is found in boreal habitat, but not alpine zones.

Reproduction

By spores and by gemmae, vegetative propagules derived from buds, that develop in leaf axils.

Uses

Upper Tanana Indians used the whole plant in a poultice applied to the head for headaches.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200002709
https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/fern/northern-firmoss
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huperzia_selago
Status: Unknown
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionLycopodiophyta
ClassLycopodiopsida
OrderLycopodiales
FamilyLycopodiaceae
GenusHuperzia
SpeciesH. selago