Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Not your usual Tree Clubmoss

Unusual growth form this year

Most everyone who has noticed clubmosses has seen the Princess Pine or Tree Clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium obscurum). It is the most common clubmoss in our area. Perhaps because of the prolonged drought and then finally rain, we found a patch of these that have an unusual growth form. Usually the top of the stalks end in a yellow strobilus (cone), which contains the fertile sporophylls. The clubmosses in this patch have very elongated apical rhizomes coming from the top of the stems. The longest of these extended stems was 16 inches long! They are long and thin and almost look like they would reattach to the ground and start new clubmosses vegetatively.

One of our fern friends, Pam L., sent us a photo with an unusual Princess Pine growth as well. On that one, new stems started above the yellow sporophores, but they have leaves on them like the rest of the plant. A strange year!

On October 16th we saw the following clubmosses:

Princess PIne or Tree Clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium obscurum), Fan Club Moss or Southern Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum digitatum), Wolf's Claw or Running Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum), Shining Clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula), Blue Ground Cedar Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum tristachyum) & Hickey's Tree Clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium hickeyi).

Until I get a simple guide put together on these, you can check out some news articles I did on the 5 common clubmosses a couple years ago. You can scroll back through the News articles and find them between 2/8/21 and 4/4/21. I guess I still need to do a focus news article on the Hickey's and a couple others we have seen this year!

Remember we have one more hike this season, the day after Thanksgiving. We will do the usual hike up to the Mt Toby caves, looking at the evergreen or overwinter ferns, clubmosses and trees along the way. Hope you can join us!