Lycopodium complanatum L.
Diphasiastrum complanatum (L.) Holub
Diphasium anceps Á. Löve & D. Löve
Diphasium wallrothii H.P. Fuchs
Diphasium anceps (Wallr.) Á. Löve & D. Löve
Lycopodium complanatum L. var. canadense Vict.
Diphasium complanatum (L.) Rothm.
Diphasium complanatum (L.) Rothm. ssp. montellii Kukkonen
Lycopodium anceps Wallr.
Lycopodium complanatum L. ssp. anceps (Wallr.) Asch.
Diphasium anceps (Wallr.) A. Löve & D. Löve
Lycopodium complanatum L. var. canadense Victorin
Ground cedar, northern brown cedar, flat-branched club moss
Ground cedar is native to Canada, Greenland, northern and central Europe, Russia, China, Japan, India, Thailand, and the northern United States: cool temperate regions around the world. They appear in open woodlands, thickets, heathland or rocky slopes.
Plants: These perennials creep along the ground via stolons, roots that are on or near the surface of the ground, though they are often obscured by leaf litter. Along the roots erect stems appear, branching multiply, making what looks like miniature cedar shrubs. (Ground cedar, a clubmoss, is entirely unrelated to cedars, which are conifer shrubs.) They are 3-17" (7.6-43 cm) tall, including their strobili, vaguely pinecone-like structures.
Leaves: Like real cedars, ground cedar leaves are flattened, with rough teeth or scales. The leaves are bright green and shiny, in four vertical rows, sharp-tipped, partially fused to the stem.
Fruits: Strobilii, reproductive structures, resemble pale yellow brown miniature pine cones thrust upward well above the plant and held erect on long stalks. They appear singly or in pairs.
Edibility: Poisonous The plant contains lycopodine, which paralyzes motor nerves. It also contains clavatine, which is toxic to many mammals. The spores are not toxic.
Lycopodium complanatum on www.uwyo.edu
Lycopodium complanatum on BorealForest.org
Lycopodium complanatum on Discover Life
Lycopodium complanatum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families of Northwestern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 294
Lycopodium complanatum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.