Huperzia - Lycopodiaceae

Huperzia ophioglossoides (Lam.) Rothm.

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: P. Ballings






Lycopodium ophioglossoides Lam.
Urostachys ophioglossoides (Lam.) Herter ex Nessel
Lycopodium longifolium (P.Beauv.) Sw.

Common name


Stems pendulous, repeatedly dichotomously branched, (10-)30-150 x 1-1.5 cm including leaves. Foliage leaves 8-20 × 1-3(-4) mm, 2-3 ranked, loosely overlapping, standing out from the branches, narrowly lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to pointed, firmly herbaceous. Fertile portion of the stem clearly recognizable, 2-40 cm long, dichotomously branched, often interrupted by a group of vegetative leaves. Sporophylls 2-4 x 1-1.5 mm, distinctly smaller than the foliage leaves, broadly ovate in outline, adpressed or closely overlapping but often not entirely hiding the axis, often shiny. Sporangia yellow, 1.2-1.5 mm wide.


H. ophioglossoides has a narrow and long fertile portion with sporophylls that are much smaller than the foliage leaves.


ophioglossoides: like Ophioglossum, the fertile portion of the stem resembling the fertile spike of Ophioglossum.


Deep shade in moist evergreen forest, bamboo, mist forest.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Comoro Isl., Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles.

Distribution in Africa

Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 16. (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 36 - 37. (Includes a picture).
  • Hedberg, I; Friis, Ib & Persson, E (2009) Lycopodiaceae to Pinaceae.Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea, vol.1 Page 8. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 137 - 138. (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 14.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 19. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 18 - 20. (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Pages 12 - 14. (Includes a picture).
  • Vercourt, B. (2005) Lycopodiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 7 - 9. (Includes a picture).