Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fern Allies - Clubmosses 2a

Running or Wolf’s Claw Clubmoss

The second clubmoss being profiled & common to our area is Running or Wolf's Claw clubmoss. It is a low evergreen with a horizontal stem that trails along the ground. The distinctive features are the erect stems which branch 3-6 times and are covered with small pale green leaves ending in soft hairlike tips. They grow in dry to moist woods and clearings in the Northeastern U.S.

Lyopodium clavatum is the most widespread genus in the species Lycopodium. They are found throughout parts of North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. This is the plant which first was called "clubmoss" in Europe. Linnaeus later added the species name "clavatum" or club, referring to the "clublike" fertile cones on their long stalks.

This lovely plant was once overcollected for Christmas decorations and herbal remedies. Apparently the pollen is still used to create homeopathic medicine used in all sorts of treatments, for nausea, constipation, emotional problems, breathing problems and headaches. Even Walmart and eBay sell it on the web! We don't claim any of this, we love it for its perky green form in winter and throughout the year.

Most of these plants are buried beneath the snow right now, but as the snow melts you will find them, once you start looking, They are distinctive, just like our first fern ally profile the "tree" clubmoss.

Next time, Southern Ground Cedar or Fan clubmoss!