Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella cathedrifolia Spring

Photo: BT. Wursten
Dem. Republic of Congo

Photo: BT. Wursten
Dem. Republic of Congo

Photo: BT. Wursten
Dem. Republic of Congo






Lycopodioides cathedrifolium (Spring.) Kuntze
Selaginella zenkeri Hier. ex Bon.
Selaginella cathedrifolia Spring var. rigidiuscula Spring.

Common name


Plants creeping, rooting along their entire length; rhizophores filiform, glabrous, up to 2.5 cm long, arising at right angles to the axes of the branches. Stems lying down, about 10-15(-30) cm long by 0.5-0.7 mm in diameter, greenish white, angular; branches glabrous, diverging by 60 °, pinnate-bipinnate, irregularly oblong in outline, often branched from the base, with lateral branches longer than the main stem. Leaves all heteromorphic; lateral leaves imbricate or separated, unequal, up to 2-2.5 x 1-1.5 mm, apex pointed, base unequal, acroscopic half semi-oval, rounded at base, margin long ciliate downwards and subentire to dentate upwards, basiscopic half semi-oblong to lanceolate, subtruncated at base, entire or serrulate at the edges, midrib inconspicuous, false veins absent, upper surface shiny green, lower surface pale green; axillary leaves slightly unequal, about 3/4 the length of the lateral leaves (2 x 0.8-0.9 mm), apex narrower and more acute, base truncate, margin long ciliated below and subentire above; median leaves 1.5 x 1 mm, imbricate, obliquely ovate in outline, apex long tapering, base rounded, margin serrulate. Strobili solitary at the top of lateral and ultimate branches, 8-12 x 1.5 mm, tetragonal. Sporophylls homomorphic, 1.8 x 0.6-0.7 mm, elliptical-lanceolate, apex long tapering, margin serrulate, keeled; with 2 kind of spores.




Dense humid forest undergrowth, damp and shady places, sometimes exposed, damp ground near springs, forest ravines, savannas, lateritic slabs, embankments of roadside soil, exceptionally epiphytic on tree trunks in dense humid forest.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo.

Growth form



  • Bizzarri, M.P. (1985) Selaginellaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 26 - 28. (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 21.
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Pages 29 - 30.
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Pages 23 - 24.