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Selaginella selaginoides (L.) Link

Photo: Selaginella selaginoides

Low Spike-moss

Habitat: Damp shores, mossy banks, etc. [Open wetland, not coastal nor rivershore (non-forested, wetland); Non-tidal rivershore (non-forested, seasonally wet)]

Range: Circumboreal, south to Nova Scotia, and northern Michigan and Minnesota.

Aids to Identification: Spike-mosses are inconspicuous, spore-bearing, vascular plants related to the clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae). They resemble mosses that are frequently overlooked. This evergreen herb can be distinguished from other spikemosses by its spirally arranged 10-ranked leaves, which are thin, toothed, and lacking bristle-tips. The fertile erect stems usually grow to 6-10 cm, and the sterile prostrate stems grow to 2-5 cm.

Photo: Selaginella selaginoides specimen

Ecological characteristics: The occurrences of this species in Maine are associated with circumneutral fens, and it is the only spikemoss or clubmoss that grows in circumneutral fens.

Phenology: Fruits July - August.

Family: Selaginellaceae

Synonyms: Former names include Lycopodium selaginoides L. and Selaginella spinosa P. Beauv.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 6 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis.

Dates of documented observations are: 1904, 1917, 1989, 1992, 1996 (2)

Reason(s) for rarity: At southern limit of range; habitat naturally scarce.

Conservation considerations: Maintain hydrologic integrity of its open fen habitat.