Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Meadow Spikemoss - Selaginella apoda   (L.) Fernald
Members of Selaginellaceae:
Only member of Selaginella in NC.
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Section 1 » Order Selaginellales » Family Selaginellaceae
Author(L.) Fernald
DistributionStatewide, probably occurring in all counties, though collected from only 2/3rds of them. Unknown from the Outer Banks.

This is an Eastern species, from ME to MO, south to central FL and central TX; also scattered to central Mex. and Guat.
AbundanceRelatively common but very easily overlooked in most areas of the state. Absence of specimens from some far eastern counties might be an artifact of collecting.
HabitatThis is an obligate wetland species, growing in damp to muddy and mostly sunny places -- margins of marshes and ponds, openings in bottomlands, wet meadows and pastures, bogs, open seepages, spray cliffs, mossy forests, and even lawns.
PhenologyFruits from June to October.
IdentificationThis is one of the more easily overlooked vascular plants in the state, being very small and resembling a moss or liverwort. It has prostrate stems, often branched, many inches long. The tiny leaves are in 4 rows, with the lateral ones larger, ovate, but barely 1-2 mm (less than 1/10-inch) long, with the upper and lower leaves quite tiny. The leaf texture is quite thin, bright yellow-green to green, growing in mats, though the individual branches and their "2-ranked" leaves are quite distinctive if you bend down to look closely. The strobili are erect and about 1/3-inch long. Technically, this species does not resemble any other vascular plant in the state, but as it is so tiny, most biologists will overlook it completely or simply call it a moss or liverwort and move on.
Taxonomic CommentsFormerly named as Selaginella apoda, and still so in most references. In earlier Weakley floras, it was named as Lycopodioides apodum, but Weakley (2023) has moved it back to the original Selaginella apoda.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieAnson County, granitic slab at natural spring on Huntley land. March 2024. AnsonPhoto_natural
Larry ChenHyde County, 2021, Mattamuskeet NWR. HydePhoto_natural
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