Common Fern and Fern-Ally Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Lycopodium obscurum
Ground Pine
Lycopodiaceae (Clubmoss Family)

Ground Pine Description

General - Perennial from extensively rooting, deep creeping rhizomes; stems erect, 7 - 30 cm tall, unbranched towards base, densely branched above, bushy, tree-like.

Leaves - Many, dense, in 6 (sometimes to 8) vertical rows, sharp pointed, linear-lance-shaped.

Spore Clusters - in axils of greenish to yellowish brown, pointed, broadly egg-shaped bracts densely clustered in single, stalkless cones, 1 - 3 cm long, at stem tips.


Moist sites in woods, thickets and clearings; widespread across Northwestern Ontario's boreal forest north and west to Great Bear River and west-interior Alaska.


Club-mosses have been boiled in water to make a medicinal tea that was cooled and used as an eye wash. At one time, fresh plants were put on the head to cure headaches and worn on clothing to ward off illness. Ground-pines stay green all winter, and they are often used in Christmas decorations. In the Paleozoic era (about 300,000 million years ago), the ancestors of modern club-mosses reached gigantic proportions. These huge plants, some up to 30 m tall, formed a major part of the plant material that developed into coal beds. The ground-pine gets its name from its resemblance to a miniature coniferous tree. The genus named Lycopodium is from the Greek lycos, 'wolf', and podus, 'foot', after a fancied resemblance of club-moss leaves to a wolf's paw.

Return to Top of Page

Home | Forest Capital of Canada | About Our Website |
Ontario's North (West) Forest | Boreal Forests of the World | North (West) Forest Industry |
World Links and Resources | "Forest Finder" Search Engine | Educational Resources |
What's Happening | Contacts | Site Map |