|Selaginella subsp. var.|
Selaginella is a genus of plants in the family Selaginellaceae, the spikemosses. Many workers still place the Selaginellales in the class Lycopodiopsida (often misconstructed as "Lycopsida"). This group of plants has for years been included in what, for convenience, was called "fern allies".
Selaginellas are creeping or ascendant plants with simple, scale-like leaves on branching stems from which roots also arise. The plants are heterosporous (megaspores and microspores), and have structures called ligules, scale-like outgrowths near the base of the upper surface of each microphyll and sporophyll.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Selaginella (diminutive of Latin Selago, old name of a club moss). Selaginellaceae. Club Moss. A large group of mostly tropical plants with small scale-like leaves and of diverse habit, ranging from minute prostrate annuals to erect or even climbing perennials.
Easily recognized by the production of two kinds of spores—powdery microspores from which the male prothallus arises and larger microspores produced 4 in a sporangium just within the axil of the terminal lvs. of the st. which often form a 4-angled spike. In all our cult. species the lvs. are in 4 ranks, the 2 upper smaller and pressed against the st., giving it a flattened appearance. Selaginellas are graceful fern-like greenhouse plants, often known to gardeners as lycopodiums. The botany of the genus is in an uncertain state, both as to nomenclature, and the limits of species. They are plants of the Pteridophyta or fern allies.
Selaginellas are favorite plants in every good conservatory, being greatly admired for their feathery moss-like foliage. They have various shades of green, and some of them are remarkable for metallic and iridescent tints, especially bronze and bluish colors, the latter being very unusual among plants in general. S. Willdenovii is a very choice large-growing species of the bronze and blue class. Another is S. uncinata, often called "rainbow moss." Selaginellas are often grown for their own sake as specimen plants, but they are also very commonly used as edging for greenhouse beds, for covering unsightly spots under the benches, and for hiding the surface soil of large tubs, orchid pots, and the like. (See Fig. 3598.) They are also delightful subjects for table decoration when grown in pans or jardinieres. For this purpose a well-grown selaginella should be a dense compact mass of fluffy and feathery green, not a weak thin straggling plant, as compared in Figs. 3599 and 3600. Selaginellas are also employed in bouquets of flowers, fronds being used for "green" instead of asparagus or fern. Occasionally a fancier of the more difficult species grows a large specimen in a Wardian case for exhibition. In general, Selaginellas are of easy culture. As a rule they prefer shade and moisture and are somewhat tender in foliage compared with some of the commonest of commercial ferns. S. denticulata, S. Kraussiana, S. Martensii, and some other commercial favorites may be rapidly propagated without any preliminary treatment in the cutting-bench. Cuttings of these species about an inch and a half long may be inserted directly into small pots of light sandy soil, placed in a shady position. Syringe them lightly three or four times a day for a week, at the end of which time they will take root. They will soon grow into salable plants. The popular S. Emmeliana, which is generally considered by florists a variety of S. cuspidata, requires different treatment. It is much slower and sometimes requires about nine months from the making of cuttings until the young plants are ready for potting. Fill regular fern-boxes with fern soil, adding one part in five of sand, and press firmly. Choose mature fronds of the S. Emmeliana, cut them into pieces half an inch long, scatter thinly over surface of soil, and put just enough finely screened soil on top of the cuttings to attach some small portion of them to the soil. Water thoroughly, cover with glass, and place in a temperature of 70° F. In this condition they will soon form roots and little plants at almost every joint. When sufficiently large they should be separated and transplanted singly an inch apart into boxes, where they may be left until large enough to be potted. The following list of selaginellas for special and general purposes is not designed to be complete, but merely suggestive. For commercial purposes, S. denticulata, S. Kraussiana, S. Martensii, and S. Emmeliana; for carpeting the soil, S. denticulata; for table decoration, S. Emmeliana and S. Martensii, for cutting, the commercial kinds; for veranda-boxes, S. Braunii; for bronze and blue colors, S. Willdenovii and S. uncinata; for specimen plants and exhibitions, S. Braunii, S. Lyallii, S. viticulosa, S. Wallichii, and S. Willdenovii. Also the following, which are generally considered more difficult subjects: S. atroviridis, S. haematodes, and S. molliceps; for curiosity, S. serpens and S. lepidophylla. The curiosities of the genus call for special mention. S. serpens is remarkable for its changes of color during the day. In the morning the foliage is bright green; during the day it gradually becomes paler as though bleached by the light; toward night it resumes its lively green hue again. For S. lepidophylla, see Resurrection Plants. The following species also deserve a few running notes: S. Braunii is an old favorite which is often incorrectly labelled S. Willdenovii in collections. Its branches, or "foliage" in the popular sense, are exceptionally tough and wiry for the genus. Variegated forms appear in S. Martensii, S. Kraussiana, and S. involvens, the last-named species being prolific in singular forms. S. viticulosa is better adapted for use as a pot-plant than for mingling in a fernery, because of its strong-growing erect fern-like habit. The branchlets are thrown up from creeping stems and do not root readily, so that this species is usually propagated by division or spores.
The following American trade names cannot be satisfactorily accounted for as species: S. acaulis is said to be one of the most important commercial species cult. in Amer.—S. circinata is cult. at Harvard Botanic Garden.—S. Lageriana was intro. from Colombia and probably belongs to species already described from that country. It is said to be a very light green plant and a strong grower, whereas S. Pitcheriana is of dwarfer habit and with sts. and under surface of fronds red and upper surface dark green.—S. Mandiana is a recent intro. by W. A. Manda which can not be satisfactorily placed.—S. paradoxa. Offered by John Saul, 1893.—S. Pitcheriana. Consult S. Lageriana. Colombia.—S. rubicunda and S. triangularis were offered by Saul in 1893.—S. umbrosa. Once cult. by Pitcher & Manda, of the United States Nurseries. CH
Pests and diseases
There are about 700 species of Selaginella, showing a wide range of characters; the genus is overdue for a revision which might include subdivision into several genera. Better-known spikemosses include:
- Selaginella apoda - meadow spikemoss (eastern North America)
- Selaginella bifida (Rodrigues Island)
- Selaginella biformis
- Selaginella braunii - Braun's spikemoss (China)
- Selaginella bryopteris - sanjeevani (India)
- Selaginella canaliculata - clubmoss (southeast Asia, Maluku Islands)
- Selaginella carinata
- Selaginella densa - lesser spikemoss (western North America)
- Selaginella eclipes - Hidden spikemoss (eastern North America)
- Selaginella kraussiana - Krauss's spikemoss (Africa, Azores)
- Selaginella lepidophylla - resurrection plant, dinosaur plant, and flower of stone (Chihuahuan Desert of North America)
- Selaginella martensii
- Selaginella moellendorffii
- Selaginella pallescens
- Selaginella plana
- Selaginella rupestris - rock spikemoss, festoon pine, and northern Selaginella (eastern North America)
- Selaginella selaginoides - lesser clubmoss (north temperate Europe, Asia and North America)
- Selaginella sericea A.Braun - Ecuador
- Selaginella uncinata - peacock moss, peacock spikemoss, blue spikemoss
- Selaginella willdenowii - Willdenow's spikemoss
Many species of Selaginella are desert plants known as "resurrection plants", because they curl up in a tight, brown or reddish ball during dry times, and uncurl and turn green in the presence of moisture. Other species are tropical forest plants that appear at first glance to be ferns.
Wallace's Selaginella (Selaginella wallacei)
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963