class of plants

Clubmosses are a group of plants in the Lycopodiophyta, which are the most ancient group of land plants. The clubmosses are an order Lycopodiales, (or a subclass Lycopodiopsida).

Lycopodiella cernua with close-up of branch
Scientific classification
The shining firmoss, Huperzia lucidula

Clubmosses are thought to be structurally similar to the earliest vascular plants, with small, scale-like leaves, homosporous spores borne in sporangia at the bases of the leaves, branching stems (usually dichotomous), and generally simple form.

A powder known simply as lycopodium, consisting of dried spores of the common clubmoss, was used in Victorian theater to produce flame-effects. A blown cloud of spores burned rapidly and brightly, but with little heat. It was considered safe by the standards of the time.

Taxonomy change

The group is now split into two families:

  • Lycopodiaceae: the typical clubmosses. Their spores are on a club-like structure. Their typical chromosome count is n=34.
  • Huperziaceae: the firmosses. Their spore-bearing structures are in the axils of unmodified leaves. The family has a basal chromosome count of n=67.