Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green in Winter: Ground Cedar and Running Ground Pine

Exceedingly rare in Indiana, the little-known and poorly recognized Ground Cedar (Lycopodium tristachyum) is occasional in semi-dry, sandy, early-successional flats behind the dunes, mainly in LaPorte County. This plant is sometimes called Diphasiastrum tristachyum.

Photographed in LaPorte County, Indiana on December 28, 2011.

It is similar to the somewhat common Running Ground Pine or Fan Clubmoss (Lycopodium complanatum var. flabelliforme) shown below, but the latter has horizontal stems at the surface and “leaves” on the lower side of the branch much reduced and not overlapping. In addition, the antrorse lateral leaves of the latter are slightly more appressed, a little less spreading.

Photographed in LaPorte County, Indiana on December 31, 2011.

One could make a full time job out of trying to stay current with the bothersome revolving door of clubmoss nomenclature. To wit, the latter species has the following handles involved in its identity crisis: Diphasiastrum digitatum, Lycopodium digitatum, L. complanatum, L. flabelliforme, and L. complanatum flabelliforme. Some botanists feel obligated to provide all 4011 names so as not to offend anyone’s tender sensibilities, alas.


Unknown said...

Hmmmm, I need to go back to a site here in the Oak Openings of NW Ohio to see what we've really got.... a good excuse for a day in the winter day afield.

Keith Board said...

Good luck Marianne, I hope you find the rare one! A few more clues: Lycopodium tristachyum is sometimes called Deeproot Clubmoss because the horizontal stems are below the surface of the ground (not just below the leaf litter). Also, the tiny, spreading lateral "leaves" give the plant a prickly appearance.

Keith Board said...
This comment has been removed by the author.