Lycopodium clavatum

Running Ground Pine

Running Ground Pine, Photo copyright Earl J.S. Rook
Running Ground Pine
Photo © Earl J.S. Rook

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


  • Lycopodium, from the Greek, lukos (lukos) "wolf", and podos (podos) "foot"; "wolf's foot", a reference to the resemblance of the branch tips to a wolf's paw.
  • clavatum, from the Latin, "club shaped"
  • Running Ground Pine, from
  • Other common names include Common Clubmoss, Running Clubmoss, Running Pine, Running Moss, Staghorn Clubmoss, Wolf's Claw Clubmoss, Foxtail Clubmoss, Robin Hood's Hatband, Forks and Knives, lycopode à massue (Qué), Mattlummer (Swe), Mjuk kråkefot (Nor), Almindelig Ulvefod (Dan), Katinlieko (Fin), Burstajafni (Is), Keulen-Bärlapp (Ger), Lus a' Mhadaidh-Ruaidh, Garbhag nan Gleann (Gaelic)


    • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Lycopodiophyta, the Club Mosses
      • Class Lycopodiopsida, the Club Mosses
        • Order Lycopodiales, the Club Mosses
          • Family Lycopodiaceae, the Club Mosses
            • Genus Lycopodium, the Club Mosses
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 17024


  • A ¼, ½, ¾, º, é
  • A broad spreading, evergreen clubmoss. Height to 10"
  • Roots
  • Horizontal stems on substrate surface; branching, interlacing, covering large area
  • Vertical stems multi-branched, dense leaves. Upright shoots clustered, 0.6--1.2 cm diam., dominant main shoot with 3--6 branches mostly in lower 1/2. Lateral branchlets few and like upright shoots; annual bud constrictions abrupt, branchlets mostly spreading. Leaves spreading, often somewhat ascending in distal 1/3 of branches, medium green, linear, 4--6 X 0.4--0.8 mm; margins entire; apex with narrow hair tip 2.5--4 mm.
  • Branches multiple, of varying length
  • Leaves 1/3", toothed, tapering to hairlike tip; generally ascending
  • Cones cylindrical, 3"; one or more on 6", yellowish stems Peduncles 3.5--12.5 cm, with remote pseudowhorls of appressed leaves, loosely branched into 2--5 alternate stalks, 0.5--0.8 cm. Strobili 2--5 on alternate stalks (if double, usually with stalks 5--8 mm), 15--25 X 3--6 mm.
  • Sporophylls 1.5--2.5 mm, apex abruptly reduced to hair tip. 2 n = 68.

    Fields and woods; B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask.; Alaska, Calif., Conn., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Oreg., Pa., R.I., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.; Mexico; West Indies; Central America; South America; Europe; Asia; Africa; Pacific Islands.


  • Identifiable as
  • Distinguished from tree like clubmosses by its running habit.
  • Distinguished from other running clubmosses by its branching, multiple cones on extremely long stems, and horizontal stem on surface of ground.
  • Field Marks


  • Circumboreal; Alaska to Newfoundland, south to California, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and North Carolina.


  • Moist shaded woodland, open thickets, rocky slopes, pine forests, mixed woods; occasionally swamp and bog edges.
  • Soil loose, acidic




  • Once widely used for Christmas decoration and over collected.



  • Reproduces by spore and vegetatively by rhizomes


  • Very difficult; division may be the most successful method.


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun
    • Soil
    • Water
    • Spacing
    • Fertilization
  • Size 12"-18"W x 12"-18"H
  • Growth rate
  • Clubmosses can make attractive ground covers, but they do not transplant well.
  • Available by mail order from specialty suppliers or at local nurseries



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004