Subordinate Taxa
Scientific Name:
Phylloglossum Kunze, Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 1: 721 (1843)
From the Greek phyllon (leaf) and glossa (tongue), a reference to the shape of the leaves.

Terrestrial plants. Stems erect, unbranched, growing from a subterranean tuber.  Roots forming a single basal tuft. Leaves whorled at ground level, terete, linear. Bulbils absent. Sporophylls markedly different to the leaves, aggregated into distinct strobili, ephemeral. Strobili solitary, erect, terminal on leafless stalk. Spores foveolate or fossulate, triangular in polar view with convex lateral margins, and foveolate sculpture only on the distal surfaces.


A monotypic genus (PPG 1 2016). Phylloglossum is a highly specialised genus which has been recognised for over 150 years. It belongs to the huperzioid clade of Lycopodiaceae (Field et al. 2016) but is morphologically distinct from both Huperzia and Phlegmariurus. It is a tiny terrestrial plant with a subterranean tuber, a basal rosette of linear leaves, and a small strobilus borne on a leafless stalk, quite unlike any other member of the family.


A monotypic genus confined to Australia and New Zealand, where it is adapted to seasonally wet conditions, surviving the dry season as an underground tuber. One indigenous, non-endemic species in New Zealand.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Phylloglossum Kunze
Indigenous (Non-endemic)1

Blackwood (1953) reported a single count of n = 246 II + 10 I from Australian material of Phylloglossum drummondii.


The gametophyte of Phylloglossum in New Zealand has been examined in detail by Holloway (1935) and Whittier & Braggins (1992, 2000).

Blackwood, M. 1953: Chromosomes of Phylloglossum drummondii Kunze. Nature 172: 591–592.
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.
Christenhusz, M.J.M.; Zhang, X.-C.; Schneider, H. 2011: A linear sequence of extant families and genera of lycophytes and ferns. Phytotaxa 19: 7–54.
Field, A.R.; Testo, W.; Bostock, P.D.; Holtum, J.A.M.; Waycott, M. 2016: Molecular phylogenetics and the morphology of the Lycopodiaceae subfamily Huperzioideae supports three genera: Huperzia, Phlegmariurus and Phylloglossum. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94: 635–657.
Holloway, J.E. 1935: The gametophyte of Phylloglossum drummondii. Annals of Botany 49: 513–520.
Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. 1990: Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Vol. 1. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Kunze, G. 1843: Phylloglossum, genus novum ex ordine novo. Botanische Zeitung (Berlin) 1: 721–723.
Perrie, L.R. 2011: New names for New Zealand ferns from Christenhusz et al. (2011). New Zealand Botanical Society Newsletter 104: 15–17.
PPG 1 2016: A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54(6): 563–603.
Whittier, D.P.; Braggins, J.E. 1992: The young gametophyte of Phylloglossum (Lycopodiaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 79: 730–736.
Whittier, D.P.; Braggins, J.E. 2000: Observations on the mature gametophyte of Phylloglossum (Lycopodiaceae). American Journal of Botany 87: 920–924.