Lycopodiophytes (Club Mosses) in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve

Lycopodiophyte Characteristics: Lycopods are a very ancient group of plants. Fossils date back 410 million years. During the Carboniferous Period, tree-like lycopods formed huge forests. Today, there are approximately 1,200 living species. Lycopods reproduce by shedding spores and have macroscopic alternation of generations. Their leaves have only a singular vein, unlike ferns and other plants.

Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Like other plants, lycopods convert energy of sunlight to energy other organisms can use. The conversion process is photosynthesis and the energy club mosses produce is distributed to animals through the food web. Also during photosynthesis, club mosses produce oxygen. In addition, lycopodiophytes provide habitat for other organisms.

Species Name
Common Name
Selaginella arenicola
Sand Spike-Moss

Selaginella arenicola

Sand Spike-Moss

Selaginella arenicola is a native, perennial, small, non-flowering member of Family Selaginellaceae. The plant has underground stems that send out roots and erect, irregularly forked stems. As shown in the photographs above, under wet conditions, the plant is bright green. Under dry conditions, the plant is brown. It is a clump-forming Florida scrub plant with scale-like leaves on radially symmetrical branching stems. As show in the close-up photographs below, the leaves are narrow, triangular, and lance-shaped.


Reproduction in sand-spike moss involves sporophytes and gametophytes. The sporophyte is the plant shown in these photographs. It produces spores. As shown here, the male part of the plant is at the top of the stem and consists of an orange-colored microsporange containing microspores (small spores). The female part, the white macrosporange, contains macrospores (large spores). Microspores grow into gametophytes that produce sperm cells. Macrospores grow into gametophytes that produce egg cells. When water from fog, dew, or rain transports a sperm to an egg, fertilization takes place, producing a new sporophyte plant.


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© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.

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