Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ground Cedar

This is a plant that’s most commonly found in the shaded woods. I guess the tall prairie grasses provide the necessary shady environment to allow these Ground Cedars, Lycopodium digitatum, to prosper.

The leaves have a waxy shine that makes them sparkle in the sunlight. The cedar name comes partly from the similarity of the spiky points on the branches to cedar needles. The branches remind me of centipedes.

A look at the underside of the branches is necessary for proper identification to species. The important feature is that little point down the center of the branch.

Things are much less dense when you look beneath the canopy. Ground Cedar spreads by way of runners. As the runner extends, shoots emerge to form new plants. It doesn’t take long for these plants to fill in an area.

The plants will do fine in this moist area over the winter. The habit of growing in the shade seems to be more a necessity of staying hydrated instead of intolerance to sunlight. By the time it gets hot and dry next summer, these plants will be well protected by the shade of the tall grasses.


  1. We have some of that growing on our property, too. It's cool stuff. When I looked it up a few years ago, I came across another common name for it, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is.... "moss" something.

  2. ...I came across a stand of this at Fort Ancient last weekend. The boy scouts had improved the trail and created a flyer to accompany it. They pointed this little plant out in their flyer.

  3. The Lycopodiums are often refered to as Clubmosses. The Ground Cedar is probably the most common of the group.

  4. Yes, Clubmoss - that's it! Thanks.