Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella nivea Alston ssp. nivea






Common name


Plant creeping, mat-forming; stems repeatedly branched, terminating in short, rather club-shaped fascicles of leaves. Leaves randomly arranged, linear-lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point and ending in a white seta 1/4 of the total leaf length, margins with short cilia, 1.5-2 × 0.25 mm, leaves bluish-green when fresh, becoming light creamy-brown to whitish with age and breaking away. Strobilus situated on the end of the branches, 2.5 mm long; sporophylls in 4 lines, lanceolate-ovate on the upper side, broadly ovate on the lower side.


S. nivea can easily be confused with S. dregei which has a longer apical seta (a third to a quarter of the length of the leaf blade), sporophylls that are arranged in 2 ranks and leaves that have a dorsiventral arrangement along the stem.


nivea: snow white, referring to the pale colour of the dried leaves.


Open sandy places in dry Colophospermum mopane woodland.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 25 - 26. (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 86 - 87. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 144. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 25.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 26.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 25.