northern groundcedar

(Diphasiastrum complanatum)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

northern groundcedar

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Uncommon

Habitat

Dry. Coniferous forests.

Sporulation

July to October

     
Height

Usually 4¾ to 8

     
 
Identification

This is an erect, evergreen, perennial club moss. It produces sparingly-branched horizontal stems (rhizomes) from which rise erect, vertical shoots. Fibrous roots emerge from the underside of the horizontal stems.

The horizontal stems are green, 1 32 to 1 16 wide, and round in cross section. They appear on the surface of the ground, often shallowly buried under leaf litter. They are sparsely covered with tiny, scale-like leaves. Horizontal stem leaves are linear to narrowly lance-shaped, 1 16 to long, 1 32 to 1 16 wide, and appressed or slightly spreading. They taper to a point at the tip with straight sides along the tip.

Vertical stems can be 3 to 11 in height but are usually 4¾ to 8tall. They are 1 16 to ¼ in diameter, medium green, and sparsely covered with scale-like leaves. Vertical stem leaves are narrowly lance-shaped, 1 32 to long, 1 64 to 1 32 wide, and appressed or slightly spreading. They extend down the stem at the base and taper to a point at the tip with straight or concave sides along the tip. Each vertical stem has 2 to 5 lateral branches.

Lateral branches conspicuously broad, flattened, and held horizontally to the ground. They are irregularly divided into branchlets. Each of the branchlets are also divided. Eventually, the branches are divided successively usually 2 or 3 times but up to 5 times.

The branchlets are 1 16 to wide, flat in cross section, and held horizontally to the ground. They are abruptly and conspicuously narrowed (constricted) at the conjunction of successive years growth. The upper side is green, slightly shiny, and flat. The underside is pale green, dull, and flat. There are four column-like rows of leaves, one row along each edge and one row on each surface. Lateral leaves are linear lance-shaped, to ¼ long, 1 32 to 1 16 wide, and appressed. Upper side leaves are similar but smaller. Under side leaves are narrowly triangular-shaped and much smaller.

The reproductive structures (sporangia) are born in tight, cone-shaped structures (strobili). The strobili appear singly or in pairs, sometimes in clusters of 3 or 4, at the end of one or two stalks (peduncles) that rise from the tips of the vertical stems. The peduncles are forked at equal distances. The strobilus can be 516 to 1¼ long, but is usually to 1 long and 1 16 to wide. It is blunt at the tip and does not have a sterile tip. The leaf that bears the sporangium (sporophyll) is 1 16 to long and wide and broadly triangular to nearly heart-shaped. The sporangium is kidney-shaped.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.

Note: The Biota of North America Program (BONAP) shows this species occurring in several more counties, including in the driftless region in the southeast. It is the only source showing this species in southeastern Minnesota. This map does not include the BONAP data.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Lycopodiales

 

Family:

Lycopodiaceae (club-moss)

 

Subfamily:

Lycopodioideae

 
Synonyms

Diphasium anceps

Diphasium complanatum

Diphasium complanatum ssp. montellii

Diphasium wallrothii

Lycopodium anceps

Lycopodium complanatum

Lycopodium complanatum ssp. anceps

Lycopodium complanatum var. canadense

 
Common
Names

Christmas green

creeping jenny

flat-branched club-moss

groundcedar

 

ground-cedar

northern running-pine

northern groundcedar

trailing ground-pine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Peduncle

In angiosperms, the stalk of a single flower or a flower cluster; in club mosses, the stalk of a strobilus or a group of strobili.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sporangium

A spore bearing structure, as of a fern or moss.

 

Sporophyll

A modified leaf that bears one or more sporangia.

 

Sporulation

The process of forming spores.

 

Strobilus

A cone-like structure of horsetails (Equisetaceae) and clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae) composed of sporophylls densely arranged along a central axis.

       
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Habitat

  northern groundcedar   northern groundcedar
       

Plant

  northern groundcedar   northern groundcedar
       

Lateral Branches

  northern groundcedar    
       

 

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