Huperzia porophila

Rock Clubmoss

Rock Clubmoss, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Robert R. Kowal
Rock Clubmoss
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Robert R. Kowal

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Huperzia, for Johann Peter Huperz (d. 1816) a German fern horticulturist
  • porophila, perhaps from the Greek poros (poros), "a pathway, way", and filos (philos), "loved; loving, friendly, fond"
  • Rock Clubmoss, from it's preferred habitat
  • Other common names include Lloyd's Clubmoss


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Lycopodiophyta, the Clubmosses
      • Class Lycopodiopsida, the Clubmosses
        • Order Lycopodiales, the Clubmosses
          • Family Lycopodiaceae, the Clubmosses
            • Genus Huperzia, the Fir Clubmosses
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 503084
  • Also known as Huperzia selago var. patens, Huperzia selago var. porophila, Lycopodium lucidulum var. porophilum, Lycopodium porophilum, Lycopodium selago ssp. patens, Lycopodium selago var. porophilum, Urostachys lucidulus var. porophilus, Urostachys porophilus


  • A compact, clustered clubmoss, rarely seen in our region
  • Roots produced in tip of shoot, growing downward in cortex to emerge at soil level.
  • Shoots erect, 4¾"-6", clustered to short-decumbent; leaves of mature upper portion slightly smaller than leaves of juvenile lower portion; annual constrictions may or may not be apparent. Bulblet bearing branchlets produced in 1-3 pseudowhorls at end of annual growth.
  • Leaves reflexed at base, ascending at stem apex (forming cluster) and spreading for most of stem length, sparse, yellow-green (juvenile portion) to yellow-green to green (mature portion), lustrous; largest leaves lanceolate with roughly parallel sides, 5-8mm; smallest leaves triangular, widest at base, 3-6mm; margins almost entire with low papillae or a few large teeth; stomates present on both surfaces, with fewer than 25 per half leaf on upper surface.
  • Bulblets (gemmae) 4-5mm x 3-4mm


  • Identifiable as Huperzia by
    • absence of horizontal stems
    • clustered upright shoots; not tree-like
    • absence of spore-bearing cones
  • Distinguished from other North Country Huperzia species by
    • leaves about 1/8" long with smooth edges (H. lucidula has larger, 3/8" leaves with toothed edges)
    • shoots about 4" long (H. lucidula has longer, 6" shoots)
    • fewer than 25 stomates per half-leaf on upper surface (H. appalachiana and H. selago have 30 or more)


  • Minnesota to Pennsylvania, south to Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, and Virginia.
  • Northeastern Minnesota is beyond the typical range of this more southerly clubmoss; however it has been collected from Lake County.


  • On damp, shaded, acidic sandstone, rarely on shale or exposed sandstone






  • By spores and vegetatively by rhizomes.
  • Huperzia species also reproduce by bulblets (gemma) produced at base of upper leaves which, when mature, fall to ground and sprout to form new plants.


  • Very difficult.


  • Clubmosses can make attractive ground covers, but do not transplant well and transplantation is not recommended.



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004