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Lycopodiella cernua
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic.-Serm., 1968

Species:L. cernua
Common Names:Club Moss, Paku Serani, Rumput Serani


Lycopodiella cernua or Club moss is considered a fern ally. Although it is closely related to true ferns, it has its own distinctive characteristics. It does not possess distinct fronds but instead, small leaves known as microphylls, each 4-9 mm long and with a single vein. These are arranged spirally along the much-branched erect and creeping stems. The sporangia are borne in the axils of sporophylls along the yellowish, cone-like strobili found at the tips of branches. 

Read more about the Lycopodiales order.
Read more about the Lycopodiaceae family.


Found throughout the tropics and subtropics, extending in Asia to Japan and New Zealand where it is the most common club moss.

General Biology

This is a sun loving plant that may form thickets.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of Lycopodiella cernua is somewhat different from that of true ferns in that the spores only germinate when they are covered in soil and in complete darkness. On germination, the spore gives rise to a fleshy gametophyte that bears male and female sex organs. For an account of the life history of a fern, see Pyrrosia piloselloides.

Human Uses

The plant is used to make wreaths and in flower decorations. In Indonesia and Colombia it is used to stuff cushions. In Micronesia it is applied as a cockroach repellent. In traditional medicine the plant has been used to treat beri-beri, coughs, fever and asthma. The Chinese use it to treat rheumatism, hepatitis and dysentery. They also apply it to bruises, burns and scalds. The people in South America use it as a diuretic and applied against gout, arthritic swellings, gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea and dysentery.

A powder known simply as lycopodium, consisting of dried spores of the common clubmoss, was used in Victorian theater to produce flame-effects. A blown cloud of spores burned rapidly and brightly, but with little heat. It was considered safe by the standards of the time. Also used in photo flashes and in fireworks.


de Winter, W. P. & V. B. Amoroso (eds.), 2003. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 15(2). Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies. Prosea Foundation, Borgor, Indonesia. 268 pp.

Goudey, C. J., 1985. Maidenhair ferns in cultivation. Lothian Publiahing Co. Pty. Ltd. Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland. 336pp.

Holttum, R. E., 1966. A revised flora of Malaya. II Ferns of Malaya. Govt. Printing Office, Singapore (2nd ed.). 653 pp.

Parris, B. S., R. Khew, R. C. K. Chung, L. G. Saw & E. Soepadmo (eds.), 2010. Flora of Peninsular Malaysia. Series I: Ferns and Lycophytes. Vol. 1. Malayan Forest records No. 48. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kepong. 249 pp.

Wee, Y. C., 2005. Ferns of the tropics. Times Editions-Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. 2nd ed. 190 pp.

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