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Lycopodiaceae (Clubmosses)
Lycopodium annotinum1.jpg
Lycopodium annotinum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Lycopodiophyta
Class: Lycopodiopsida
Order: Lycopodiales
Family: Lycopodiaceae
P.Beauv. ex Mirb. 1802[1]

The Lycopodiaceae (class Lycopodiopsida, order Lycopodiales) are a family of vascular plants, including all of the core clubmosses, comprising three accepted genera (Huperzia, Lycopodiella and Lycopodium) and ca 400 known species.[2] These plants bear spores on specialized structures at the apex of a shoot; they resemble a tiny battle club, from which the common name derives. They are non-flowering and do not produce seeds.

The genera Huperzia, Phlegmariurus and Phylloglossum, the species of which were generally included in a more broadly defined Lycopodium in older classifications, are now all placed in Huperzia although some authors prefer to separate these in the family Huperziaceae; they differ in producing spores in small lateral structures in the leaf axils. There is as yet no consensus on the recognition of Huperziaceae as a separate family; a more broadly defined Lycopodiaceae, including these genera, is still recognized in most general classifications.

The species within this family generally have chromosome counts of n=34. A notable exception are the species in Lycopodium subgenus Diphasiastrum, which have counts of n=23.


  • The running clubmosses (Lycopodium subgenus Diphasiastrum) have long been used as greenery for Christmas decoration.
  • The spores have long been used as a flash powder. See Lycopodium powder.
  • The spores have been used by violin makers for centuries as a pore filler.
  • In Cornwall, club mosses gathered during certain lunar phases were historically used as a remedy for eye disease.

References and external links[edit]

  • Thiselton-Dyer, Thomas F. (1889). The Folk-lore of Plants. 
  • Wagner, W. H. Jr. & J. M. Beitel. 1992. Generic classification of modern North American Lycopodiaceae. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 79: 676-686.
  • Lycopodiaceae in Flora of North America


  1. ^ James L. Reveal, Indices Nominum Supragenericorum Plantarum Vascularium 
  2. ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. Magnolia Press. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.