categoryZMosses Mosses & Clubmosses List 
categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 

FIR CLUBMOSS

Huperzia selago

Fir Clubmoss Family [Huperziaceae]  

Spores:
spores8aug

category
category8Mosses
 
category
category8Evergreen
 
status
statusZnative
 
stem
stem8round
 
toxicity
toxicityZmed
 
rarity
rarityZrare
(ssp. arctica)

11th Sept 2009, Ill Gill Head, Boot, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Grows on Mountain Heaths and moors. Stems acsending to erect, up to 30cm high (these were only about 10cm high).


early June 2013, Bavaria. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Bird's-eye view. The stems may fork, usually nearer the top. It is forked but all branches end up at much the same height.


11th Sept 2009, Ill Gill Head, Boot, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
In small clumps about the size of a tea-cup. The stout stems are short and stiff, and do not feel soft, unlike they do on Lesser Clubmoss.


11th Sept 2009, Ill Gill Head, Boot, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Leaves spreading, un-toothed and quite sharpish! The pale sporangia inhabit the axils of the leaves: there are no cones on Fir Clubmoss.


11th Sept 2009, Ill Gill Head, Boot, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Upper part splits into two ~equal-length portions.


11th Sept 2009, Ill Gill Head, Boot, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The cones form solitarily near the top. The sporangia (fawn coloured) are in the leaf axils. The sporangia of other families of Lycopodiaceae can differentiate into cones; but not those in the Huperzia genus such as Fir Clubmoss.


10th July 2009, Seathwaite Tarn, Duddon Valley, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The cones form solitarily near the top.


early June 2013, Bavaria. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Leaves between 4 and 8mm long, spreading outwards or appressed and minutely toothed (so minutely that you can barely see the teeth on them). Shape can be ovate or linear-lanceolate.


early June 2013, Bavaria. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
A solitary cone near the top (top left). Any other cones are hidden by short sharp leaves.


Some similarities to : Interrupted Clubmoss but that has short sections of the stem where there are no leaves.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : Stiff as a brush! Forks into two near the top, rather than half-way up.

It is native and to be found growing in grass on dry heaths, moors and either rocky or grassy places on mountains.

Over 200 different Lycopodium alkaloids have been discovered. Collectively, within Clubmosses, they are moderately hazardous neurotoxins, causing vomiting, nausea, dizziness, staggering and coma. It can be lethal.

LYCOPODIUM ALKALOIDS

Many mosses belonging to the Lycopodium, Huperzia and Phyloglossum Genus [all three belonging to the Lycopodiaceae Family] contain highly toxic quinolizidine alkaloids such as lycopodine, annotidine/annotinine, huperzine A and selagine. The alkaloids of the Clubmosses are based upon 20 differing skeletal frameworks. Huperzine A and Selagine have a similar structural skeleton and are found in a wide variety of Clubmosses. There exist many other variations on this molecule. Lycofoline, Lycopodine and Annotinine are all based on the Annotinine skeletal frame. Cernuine and Lycoramine on differing skeletal frameworks.

Further examples of the skeletal structures of Lycopdium alkaloids are to be found on the Common Clubmoss page.


Huperzine A was first found in Huperzia Selago, the Fir Clubmoss featured on this page. It is an Acetylcholine inhibitor and may eventually find use in treating Alzheimers disease. Selagine could have first been found in Lesser Clubmoss, (Selaginella Salaginoides), or in Huperzia Selago.


Lycopodine, Lycofoline and Annotinine have much the same molecular structure, and are to be found in most Clubmosses. Lycofoline is perhaps less abundant than the other alkaloids. Once again, many other molecular variants exist.


Annotinine/Annotidine was first found in Interrupted Clubmoss (Lycopodium Annotinum) and Cernuine in the possibly non-native Creeping Clubmoss (Lycopodium Cernuum)


Lycoramine is a rather different alkaloid with 5-, 6- and 7-membered rings found in Lycopodium Clubmosses. Lycoramine is quite similar structurally to Galanthamine which occurs in members of the Daffodil Family.


  Huperzia selago  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Huperziaceae  

Distribution
 family8Clubmoss family8Lycopodiaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Huperzia
Huperzia
(Fir Clubmosses)

FIR CLUBMOSS

Huperzia selago

Fir Clubmoss Family [Huperziaceae]  

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