Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Appalachian Firmoss - Huperzia appressa   (Desvaux) A. Love & D. Love
Members of Huperzia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 1 » Family Huperziaceae
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Author(Desvaux) A. Love & D. Love
DistributionEssentially throughout the mountains, and possibly into the adjacent Piedmont.

This is a Northern species, ranging from eastern Canada south only to NY and MN, but disjunct to the mountains of VA, NC, and TN.
AbundanceInfrequent to locally fairly common, though with somewhat restricted habitats. This is a Watch List species.
HabitatThis species is primarily found on high elevation rocky summits, cliffs, and other rocky places, generally where exposed. It also occurs in a few seepages and fens, but still at medium to high elevations.
See also Habitat Account for High Elevation Rock Outcrops
PhenologyFruits from June to August.
IdentificationThis firmoss/clubmoss has a short horizontal stem, and consists mostly of strongly ascending to erect branches that are very tightly packed in 8 ranks/rows of small, scale-like evergreen leaves. These branches can reach 5-6 inches tall, and about 1/4-1/2-inch across (with leaves). The species can be separated from similar species by its strongly ascending lanceolate and untoothed leaves; H. porophila has the leaves spreading and sparsely toothed, and it grows on rock outcrops in the lower to middle elevations in the mountains. H. lucidula, a fairly widespread species, grows on the forest floor, and its leaves are oblanceolate and much larger (often 1/3-1/2-inch long).
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has undergone many name changes. Older references named it as Lycopodium selago, but later ones as Huperzia selago and H. appalachiana. Do not confuse the name H. appressa with Lycopodiella appressa, the Southern Bog Clubmoss, an entirely different species.

Other Common Name(s)Appalachian Fir-clubmoss, Mountain Firmoss
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
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