Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella mittenii Baker

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Selaginella depressa sensu Sim
selaginella cooperi Baker
Selaginella mackenii Baker
Selaginella tectissima Baker
Selaginella welwitschii Baker

Common name


Plant creeping, moss-like, branched repeatedly, rooting for most of its length, flattened against the ground. Leaves dimorphic; lateral leaves ovate-elliptic in outline, spreading, base unequally cordate, apex pointed, margin minutely toothed, 1.25-2 × 0.75-1.1 mm; median leaves overlapping, ovate-lanceolate to elliptic in outline, apex pointed, base subtruncate, margin ciliate to toothed, 0.5-1.2 x 0.3-0.4 mm; leaves bright green, curl beneath the stem when dry. Strobili situated on the end of the branches, 4-8 x 1.5-2 mm; sporophylls similar to the median leaves, in 4 lines.


Can be distinguished from Selaginella kraussiana which has bigger lateral leaves and a more springy habit (it does not lay appressed to the ground like S. mittenii). Confusion with Selaginella perpusilla is possible, but this is only known from the Lundi river bridge in southern Zimbabwe. The lateral leaves of S. perpusilla do not curl when dry.


mittenii: named after W. Mitten, British bryologist.


In moist evergreen forest or deciduous woodland, along earth-or streambank or in rocky areas, in lee of boulders in grassland, exposed or deeply shaded.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, India.

Distribution in Africa

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

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 28. (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 94 - 95. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 145 - 146. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 33.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 27. (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 25.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 26.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2005) Selaginellaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 16.