Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella perpusilla Baker

Photo: P. Ballings






Common name


Plant creeping, moss-like; stem prostrate or suberect, 10-25 mm long, rarely branched or branched from base; roots very small and slender, borne near the base. Leaves dimorphic; lateral leaves ovate-elliptic in outline, apex pointed, base rounded, margins toothed, arista ± 1/3 or less the lenght of the lamina, 1.5-2 × 0.75-1 mm, larger than median leaves; median leaves ovate in outline, apex tapering to a point, base rounded, margin slightly finely toothed, arista ± 1/2 or less the lenght of the lamina, 0.8-1 × 0.35 mm. Strobili situated on the end of the branches, 1.5-3 x ± 0.8 mm; sporophylls slightly larger than the leaves, of 2 kinds.


Can be seperated from S. mittenii by its paler green colour, also the leaves of S. perpusilla do not curl when dry.


perpusilla: very small, referring to the size of this fern.


Damp sandy soil, seepage zone among granite outcrops in mixed deciduous Brachystegia woodland, Hyphaene grassland, scattered tree grassland, bare soil of forest tracks and sisal plantations, marshy area near rice cultivations.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Dem. Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Bizzarri, M.P. (1985) Selaginellaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 46 - 48.
  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 22. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 149. (Includes a picture).
  • 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.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 27.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 29.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2005) Selaginellaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 21.