Lycopodiella - Lycopodiaceae

Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic.Serm.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings






Lycopodium cernuum L.
Lepidotis cernua (L.) P. Beauv.
Lycopodium secundum K. Muell.
Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic. Ser.

Common name


Main stem creeping on the ground for most of its length, rooting at points of contact with the ground; secondary stems erect, much-branched; tree-like. Foliage leaves needle-like, 3 × 0.3 mm, entire, patent and curving forward. Fertile portions borne in sessile, solitary, strobili, up to 1 cm long, at the apex of the drooping branches. Sporophylls 1.5 × 1.2 mm, ovate, tapering.


Very distinctive drooping cones, should not be confused with any other fern.


cernua: drooping, nodding; referring to the hanging branch tips and strobili that make the plant look like a miniature fir tree.


Forest margins, marshy areas along streams and in open sunny disturbed areas.

Distribution worldwide

Tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 18. (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 42 - 43. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 138. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 28 - 29.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 23.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 17 - 18.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 20.