Species of the Week: Interrupted Clubmoss

Photo by Nata Culhane

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Interrupted Clubmoss (Spinulum annotinum). Clubmosses are a primitive group of plants that evolved over 440 million years ago. Despite the name, they are not mosses but true vascular plants, meaning they have specialized tissue to carry water. Clubmosses are distinguished from other plants by their small leaves with one vein, called microphylls, and they reproduce asexually using spores. In Interrupted Clubmoss, the spores are located in a cone-like structure called a strobilus at the top of the stalks. Interrupted Clubmoss gets its name because each year’s growth is marked by an interruption or constriction in the stem. The stem actually grows horizontally across the ground, with spore-bearing stalks protruding upwards for reproduction. It is a perennial plant, and the stem can grow up to three feet long. It is found in coniferous and mixed forests across all of Canada, thriving in damp, shaded areas, like at the edge of wetlands. These neat little plants can be seen popping out of the leaf litter across the forest floors throughout the park. 

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