Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella caffrorum (Milde) Hieron. var. caffrorum






Selaginella rupestris (L.) Spring var. incurva A.Braun ex Kuhn
Selaginella capensis Hieron.
Bryodesma caffrorum (Milde) Soják

Common name


Plants bright olive green when wet or alive, pale coppery brown when dry or dead and then becoming strongly incurved. Stems widely creeping, branched, c. 0.5 mm in diameter, up to 20 cm long; rhizophores scattered along the lenght of the plant, up to 4 cm long, brown. Leaves monomorphic (subdimorphic), dense, overlapping, narrowly lanceolate to linear-oblong in outline, apex tapering with an abrupt short strong bristle point, 0.7-0.8 mm long, less than 1/4 the lenght of the lamina, base slightly decurrent, margin ciliate and with small teeth, midrib prominently grooved, leaves up to 3 × 0.5 mm, lower leaves slightly bigger than upper leaves. Strobili solitary at the end of branches, 0.5–1 mm long and about 1.5 mm wide. Sporophylls arranged in 4 ranks, ovate in outline, apex tapering to a point, base auriculate, 1.8-2 x 0.75 mm, dorsal sporophylls slightly shorter and narrower than the ventral; heterosporus.


Differs from S. dregei which is more bluish green when wet and silvery grey when dry, it has a longer apical leave point (a third to a quarter of the length of the blade). S.caffrorum has the branch tips bending inwards when dry, other Selaginellaceae do not share this character.


caffrorum: from Kaffraria, referring to South Africa.


Vertical cliff faces in grassy montane areas, seepage areas on sandstone pavements in dry evergreen forest, stony areas in bushland, trunks and branches of Nuxia congesta.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Dem. Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Bizzarri, M.P. (1985) Selaginellaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 8 - 9.
  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 25. (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 84 - 85. (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. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 20.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2005) Selaginellaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 7 - 8. (Includes a picture).