Northern Ontario Plant Database
Selaginella selaginoides (L.) P.Beauv. ex Mart. & Schrank
En: low spikemoss, northern spikemoss, prickly spikemoss
Selaginellaceae (Spikemoss Family)
Photos courtesy of John Maunder, A Digital Flora Newfoundland and Labrador Vascular Plants.
General: Small moss-like plants with thin leaves (microphylls) arranged in 4–6 rows on creeping sterile stems that form mats, and erect unbranched fertile stems to 8 cm high.
Leaves: Spirally arranged, but appearing whorled; sessile, yellowish-green to brownish-tinged, flat, lanceolate, 2–4 mm long; leaf base extending downward along the stem (decurrent), apex pointed (acute), margins ciliate.
Sporangia: Borne in the axil of leaves on the upper portion of erect stems, forming a fertile spike (strobilus), 1–5 cm long. Plants are heterosporous, bearing microsporangia with many small spores (microspores) and megasporangia with 4 larger spores (megaspores) in separate sporangia, but in the same strobilus. Megaspores germinate to produce a small gametophyte (prothallus) that bears female reproductive structures (archegonia, which contain eggs), while microspores produce gametophytes with male reproductive structures (antheridia, which produce sperm).
Habitat and Range: Damp mossy shores and banks, bogs, wet woods, on neutral to basic (calcareous) substrates. Usually found growing amongst mosses, so easily overlooked. The northern spikemoss is a circumboreal species with an interrupted distribution in North America; it occurs throughout Ontario.
Similar Species: For more information on the nomenclature of other spikemoss species, see the World list of Selaginella species .
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