Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella lewalleana Bizarri






Common name


Plant sub-erect, main stem up to 40 cm long and about 1.5 mm wide, subcylindrical and with 2 lateral grooves when dry, glabrous, greenish-yellow, brownish towards the top, branched from the base; rhizophores almost along its entire length but especially in the lower part, numerous, stout, up to 15 cm long and about 1 mm in diam., reflexed; branches 2–3-pinnate, diverging 45º with stem, primary branches up to 10–15(–30) cm long. Leaves heteromorphic, shiny green on the dorsal side, pale green with silver reflections on the ventral side; lateral leaves closely spaced or imbricated, c. 4 x 2 mm, midrib almost reaching the apex, apex pointed, uneven, acroscopic side semi-oval to lanceolate, shortly auriculate at the base, long and densely ciliate in the basal part and ciliate towards the top, basiscopic side semi-oblong, truncated at the base, with entire margin and revolute at the dry state; median leaves spaced closely spaced or imbricated, about 2.5 x 1.5 mm (awn included), subcircular, slightly unequal, midrib clearly visible, cordate at base, with hyaline and ciliate margin, awned, with hyaline awn up to about 1 mm long, loosely serrate; axillary leaves c. 3 x 1.8 mm, ovate-lanceolate, midrib reaching apex, cordate at base, margin ciliate below and subentire above, acute at apex. Strobili solitary or doubled (geminate?) at the end of the last branches, up to 15 x 2 mm. Sporophylls dimorphic; dorsal sporophylls green, c. 2 x 1 mm, ovate-lanceolate, slightly unequal, with hyaline margin shortly ciliate or serrate, acute at apex, keeled, with pale green keel, well developed, very shortly ciliate; ventral sporophylls very pale green, c. 1.5 x 1 mm, broadly ovate, with shortly ciliate hyaline margin, acuminate at apex; spores of 2 kinds.



lewalleana: named after José Lewalle, a Belgian botanist (1931-2004).


Wet ground in the dense humid mountain forest, marshes, wet rocks at the edge of trails; between 1500–2000 m altitude.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Burundi, Rwanda.

Growth form



  • Bizzarri, M.P. (1985) Selaginellaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 41 - 43. (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 24.