Lycopodium - Lycopodiaceae

Lycopodium zanclophyllum J.H.Wilce






Diphasium zanclophyllum (Wilce) Rothm.
Lycopodium complanatum L. subsp. zanclophyllum (Wilce) Schelpe

Common name


Horizontal stem partly buried, 1.4 mm in diameter; leaves 1.2-4.2 x 0.6-1.2 mm, deltoid on the buried portion, longer on the superficial portion. Aerial branches erect, spaced at about 4 cm intervals, up to 30 cm tall, consisting of a central axis with 2 to 3 flattened, 3 to 6 times unequally dichotomously divided branches, arranged distinctly fan-like, in 1 vertical plane. Leaves narrowly lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point, 2.5-6.8 x 0.5-1 mm, strongly keeled below, arranged in 4 rows and barely overlapping. Strobili 11-62 mm long, in clusters of 3-8, borne on elongated peduncles with a few scattered, hair-like, spirally arranged leaves, 3 x 0.8 mm. Sporophylls broadly ovate in outline, 1.5(-3.8) x 1 mm, apex ending in a sharp, rigid point, margins rough, irregularly toothed.


Recognisable by its distinctive fan-like side branches.


zanclophyllum: Zancle: Messina in Sicily; phyllum: leaf; unclear. Possibly 'zanclo' is a typographical error for 'zantho': yellow; might refer to the yellowish green leaves of this fern.


Boulders in fynbos on sponges or as a herb in ericoid scrub in the remote mountain tops in the Western and Eastern Cape

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 19. As Lycopodium complanatum L. subsp. zanclophyllum (Wilce) Schelpe
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 40 - 41. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 141 - 142. As Lycopodium complanatum L. subsp. zancophyllum (Wilce) Schelpe (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 19.