Huperzia - Lycopodiaceae

Huperzia saururus (Lam.) Trevis.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Lycopodium saururus Lam.
Urostachys saururus (Lam.) Herter
Plananthus saururus (Lam.) P. Beauv.

Common name


Stems erect, unbranched, up to 32 cm long. Foliage leaves c. 12 × 2 mm, closely overlapping, lanceolate, entire, coriaceous, mid- to light green. Fertile portion not differentiated; sporophylls the same size and shape as the foliage leaves; sporangia hidden in the leaf axils at the end of the stem.


H. saururus is easily recognisable by its unbranched, erect stems that have an indistinct fertile portion; sporophylls similar to foliage leaves.


saururus: lizard-like, referring to the scaly appearance of the stems.


Rock crevices in montane areas; mossy, earth streambanks in montane forest.

Distribution worldwide

Lesotho, Malawi, S Africa, Zimbabwe and on tropical African mountains. Also Madagascar and the Andes in S America.

Distribution in Africa

Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 12. (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 28 - 29. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 132 - 133. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 21.
  • 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 15.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 17.