Scientific Name:
Lycopodium scariosum G.Forst., Fl. Ins. Austr. 87 (1786)
  • Stachygynandrum scariosum (G.Forst.) P.Beauv., Prodr. Aethéogam. 114 (1805)
  • Diphasium scariosum (G.Forst.) Rothm., Feddes Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 54: 65 (1944)
Lectotype (selected by Nicolson & Fosberg 2003): New Zealand, Messrs Forster, BM 001048389!
  • = Lycopodium decurrens R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland. 165 (1810)
  • Lycopodium scariosum var. decurrens (R.Br.) Hook., Cent. Ferns t. 166 (1854)
  • Diphasium decurrens (R.Br.) Holub, Folia Geobot. Phytotax. 20: 78 (1985)
Syntypes (lectotypification in progress; see Mabberley & Moore, in press): Mont. Tabul. ad fluv. Derwent [Table Mountain towards Derwent River, Tasmania], R. Brown Iter Austral. No. 125, BM, K!
  • = Lycopodium lessonianum A.Rich., Essai Fl. Nouv.-Zél., 59 (1832)
Lectotype (selected by Brownsey et al. 2018): Nlle Zélande, Herb. Richard, P 00522977 (!online)
  • = Lycopodium distans Colenso, Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 20: 236 (1888)
Lectotype (selected by Brownsey et al. 2018): high land north of Gisborne, W.K. Chambers, ex W. Colenso, Herb. Cheeseman, AK 1031!
From the Latin scariosus (scarious, of thin, dry, membranous texture), a reference to the nature of the ventral leaves and sporophylls in this species.
Vernacular Name(s):
creeping clubmoss

Horizontal stems dichotomously branching, prostrate or scrambling above ground, 1.1–3.0 mm diameter, bearing roots at intervals; leaves spirally arranged, appressed or spreading, linear or narrowly ovate, adnate. Aerial stems erect or ascending, more or less flattened in one plane, branching monopodial, glabrous; longest fertile stems 45–600 mm long (including strobili), 10–220 mm wide; unbranched portion of stem 5–100 mm long, branched portion 40–500 mm long. Sterile leaves dimorphic, flattened in one plane, with 2 rows of larger lateral leaves and 2–3 rows of smaller ventral leaves, yellow-green; lateral leaves sigma-shaped, apices acute, margins entire, bases decurrent, 2.3–5.0 mm long, 0.8–1.5 mm wide, tending to curl upwards; ventral leaves linear or narrowly elliptic, apices acuminate, those near branch apices with scarious tips, margins entire, bases adnate to subpeltate, 2.0–3.0 mm long, 0.4–0.6 mm wide. Sporophylls appressed when young, spreading at maturity, ovate to broadly ovate, apices acuminate with long, scarious tips, 2.8–5.0 mm long, 1.1–2.2 mm wide, with coloured centres and minutely erose, membranous margins, bases subpeltate, aggregated into strobili. Strobili solitary or in pairs, erect, yellow to orange-brown, 7–63 mm long, 5–9 mm wide, borne on short-leaved stalks; stalks 10–195 mm long, terminal on aerial branches, erect, bearing leaves in rough whorls that are shorter than either the sterile leaves elsewhere on the aerial stems or the sporophylls.


Lycopodium scariosum is a scrambling plant. It is one of two species of New Zealand Lycopodiaceae that have branches bearing dimorphic sterile leaves flattened in one plane. There are two rows of larger, lateral leaves and additional rows of linear leaves on the ventral surface only. It is easily distinguished from L. volubile, which also has flattened branches and dimorphic leaves, but has smaller linear leaves on both the ventral and dorsal surfaces. Lycopodium scariosum is further distinguished from L. volubile by its solitary, erect strobili borne on stalks.


North Island: Northland, Auckland, Volcanic Plateau, Gisborne, Taranaki, Southern North Island.

South Island: Western Nelson, Sounds-Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Fiordland.

Chatham Islands, Stewart Island, Antipodes Island, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island.

Altitudinal range:  0–1430 m.

Lycopodium scariosum occurs in lowland to montane regions of the North Island from the Tutamoe Range south to Wellington, extending locally into subalpine areas. It mostly grows in a zone from 300 to 1000 m, but occurs up to 1300 m in the Kaimanawa Ranges, and down to near sea level in some northern localities. In the South Island it occurs in lowland and montane areas, extending locally into subalpine areas, reaching 1430 m in the St Arnaud Range. It is absent only from some parts of inland Otago and is rare in eastern Marlborough and Canterbury. It has been recorded from Banks Peninsula (Wilson 2013), but no herbarium specimens have been located. It extends to the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island and all the subantarctic islands except the Snares.

Also Borneo, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia (Victoria, Tasmania).


Lycopodium scariosum occurs in open beech and podocarp/broadleaved forest, on forest margins and in clearings, under mānuka and kānuka, in subalpine scrub and tussockland, and on pākihi soils. It is a scrambling species that is commonly found on roadside cuttings and banks, on track banks, river banks, rocky ground, scree margins, and around boggy areas and tarns.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Brown, R. 1810: Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van-Diemen. Johnson, London.
Brownsey, P.J.; Given, D.R.; Lovis, J.D. 1985: A revised classification of New Zealand pteridophytes with a synonymic checklist of species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23(3): 431–489.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2020: Lycopodiaceae. In: Breitwieser, I.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 27. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R.; Field, A.R. 2018: Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora: lectotypes in Isoetaceae and Lycopodiaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 56(4): 396–405.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Colenso, W. 1888: On new indigenous cryptogams of the orders Lycopodiaceae, Musci and Hepaticeae. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 20: 234–254.
de Lange, P.J.; Murray, B.G.; Datson, P.M. 2004: Contributions to a chromosome atlas of the New Zealand flora – 38. Counts for 50 families. New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 873–904.
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Barkla J.W.; Courtney, S.P.; Champion, P.D.; Perrie, L.R.; Beadel, S.N.; Ford, K.A.; Breitwieser, I.; Schönberger, I.; Hindmarsh-Walls, R.; Heenan, P.B.; Ladley, K. 2018: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series. No. 22. [Not Threatened]
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Champion, P.D.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Norton, D.A.; Hitchmough, R.A. 2013: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington. [Not Threatened]
Forster, J.G.A. 1786: Florulae Insularum Australium Prodromus. Dietrich, Göttingen.
Holub, J. 1985: Transfers of Lycopodium species to Huperzia: with a note on generic classification in Huperziaceae. Folia Geobotanica et Phytotaxonomica 20(1): 67–80.
Hooker, W.J. 1854: A century of ferns. Pamplin, London.
Mabberley, D.J.; Moore, D.T.: The Robert Brown Handbook: a guide to the life and work of Robert Brown (1773-1858), Scottish botanist. Regnum Vegetabile: (in press).
Palisot de Beauvois, A.M.F.J. 1805: Prodrome des cinquième et sixième familles de l'Aethéogamie. Les mousses. Les lycopodes. Fournier, Paris.
Richard, A. 1832: Essai d'une Flore de la Nouvelle Zélande. In: Dumont d'Urville, J. Voyage de découvertes de l'Astrolabe. Botanique. Tastu, Paris.
Rothmaler, W. 1944: Pteridophyten-Studien, I. Feddes Repertorium Specierum Novarum Regni Vegetabilis 54: 55–82.
Wilson, H.D. 2013: Plant life on Banks Peninsula. Manuka Press, Cromwell.