Clubmosses are "primitive" plants, living relics of some of the earliest vascular plants. There are abundant fossils of tree-like lycopods or clubmosses, which are sometimes depicted in museum displays of dinosaurs. Such specimens are closely related to the smaller clubmosses still found today.
There are only 3 existing occurrences (2 from Long Island and 1 from the Adirondacks) and 3 historical occurrences (all from Long Island).
More precise estimates of population size are needed in future surveys to determine the trends for this species.
This species has likely always been rare in New York. The few historical records were all collected from Long Island in the early 20th century; the Warren County population may represent a recent range expansion, or may simply have been overlooked until recently.
Damage by development or human use is a potential threat to the interdunal sites.
The populations in interdunal swales should be protected from human activity. The population in the dwarf shrub bog should be protected from changes in the hydrology of the site. Cutting or other methods of maintaining open conditions may be appropriate management for Carolina Clubmoss if shrubs or trees begin to invade the areas occupied by the rare plants.
In New York Carolina Clubmoss has been found in two different types of open wetlands; on Long Island in interdunal swales, and in the Adirondacks in inundated portions of a large dwarf-shrub bog (New York Natural Heritage Program 2008).
In New York this species is only known from Long Island and from a single site adjacent to Lake George in Warren County.
Pseudolycopodiella caroliniana is found in the southern and eastern U.S. coastal states, from Texas north and east to New York and Massachusetts.
Carolina Clubmoss is a perennial, evergreen, spore-bearing herb, creeping over wet substrates. The prostate stems (which may also root) are flat in cross section with six-ranked leaves. There are two rows of larger (lateral) leaves 3.5 to 6 mm by 1.2 to 2 mm and spreading, and 4 rows of smaller (median) leaves are 3.5 to 6 mm long by 0.3 to 0.6 mm wide, and spreading, with pointed tips. The peduncles are erect stems, usually solitary (sometimes 2 to 3), with widely spaced, scale-like leaves only 2 to 3 mm wide. The spores are borne in a solitary strobilus (1.5 to 9 mm long) at the end of the peduncle.
Plants with fruiting stalks are best for identification.
Pseudolycopodiella caroliniana is the only species of Pseudolycopodiella in North America. There are four other genera of clubmosses in the state (Pseudolycopodiella previously was included in the genus Lycopodium). Carolina clubmoss can be distinguished from Lycopodiella, Huperzia, and Selago species because they have peduncles with widely separated, reduced, scale-like leaves (Lycopodiella has peduncles crowded with ordinary leaves), and from Lycopodium and Diphasiastrum species by having two types of stem leaves of different size, and by having the combination of a creeping habit and wet habitats.
The fruits appear in July and persist through late fall.
The time of year you would expect to find Carolina Clubmoss vegetative and fruiting in New York.
Pseudolycopodiella caroliniana (Linnaeus) Holub
Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1993a. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 2. Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xvi + 475 pp.
Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.
Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/).
Information for this guide was last updated on: December 22, 2008
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Pseudolycopodiella caroliniana. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/carolina-clubmoss/. Accessed January 29, 2023.