Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Rock Spikemoss - Bryodesma rupestre   (L.) Sojak
Members of Selaginellaceae:
Members of Bryodesma with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 1 » Family Selaginellaceae
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Author(L.) Sojak
DistributionEssentially throughout the Mountains, and in much of the Piedmont -- east to Vance, Franklin, Wake, and Harnett (Raven Rock) counties. It does not occur in the Coastal Plain or the Sandhills proper.

This is a widespread species, ranging across southern Greenland and Canada to B.C.,south to central GA, central AL, OK, and WY. It is scarce, however, in much of the center of its range (OH, IN, IL, WV, KY, and TN). It has been suggested that two or more cryptic species are present, to explain the odd distribution.
AbundanceUncommon to fairly common in the Piedmont foothills. Uncommon to infrequent in the Mountains and in most of the remainder of the Piedmont, with limited habitats.
HabitatThis species is limited mainly to granitic flatrocks and granitic domes, but it does grow on other rock types, mostly felsic ones. The topography is mostly flat or rounded, and the soils are usually dry.
PhenologyFruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis is a wiry, highly branched moss-like plant growing decumbent on mostly flat rock surfaces. The branches can reach 4 inches long, and the plant forms mats. The leaves are tiny and scale-like, dark green, and acuminate. The ends of the branches do curl upward, to about 1 inch high. The strobilus is about 3/5-inch long, erect. The species has a similar visual aspect to B. acanthonota, but that plant grows in xeric sands of the southern Coastal Plain and tends to look more gray-green in color. In drought years Rock Spikemoss becomes stressed and turns pale brownish or tan.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species was formerly named as Selaginella rupestris, and many references still use this name.

Other Common Name(s)Ledge Spikemoss
State RankS3 [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieTable Rock summit, July 2020. BurkePhoto_natural
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