Formerly considered fern allies but now having their own independent lineage (see comments under Selaginella), these clubmosses or running pines were also classified, and often still are, as lycopodiums. They differ in having flat, scalelike leaves rather than the bristles of the latter. The genus name means "false but incomplete resemblance to Diphasium." They are trailing creepers with upright shoots and are without
Furry new frond on Dicksonia squarrosa looks as though it is ready to be petted.
gemmae (leafy propagules that detach and grow into new plants). Fertile cones are either single without a stalk or multiple on individual or branched stalks. The species hybridize freely. In general they are not cultivated, but instead are admired novelties in the woodland understory and sometimes gathered for use in holiday wreaths and decorations.
Diphasiastrum alpinum (alpine), the alpine clubmoss, synonym Lycopodium alpinum, has a horizontal network of creeping stems with clusters of evergreen, upright 4- to 6-in. (10- to 15-cm) branching shoots. The branchlets are square and have prominent winter bud constrictions. Single cones are carried without stems at the apex of the shoots. The species is native to Zone 2 dryish coniferous forest sites and mountainous areas in western North America, extreme northeastern Canada, Greenland, Europe, Asia, and Japan.
Diphasiastrum complanatum (flattened), the evergreen running pine, synonym Lycopodium complanatum, sends up multitiered fountains of green shoots to 16 in. (40 cm) from spreading horizontal stems. The branchlets are flat with conspicuous annual bud constrictions and compressed, scalelike leaves. Fertile cones are upright centerpieces on branching stalks. This species is a Zone 2 circumboreal alpine resident of forests and open mountain slopes.
Diphasiastrum digitatum (handlike, fingered), the southern running pine, synonym Lycopodium digitatum, has horizontal shoots running on the soil surface or buried shallowly in the woodland litter, and 18-in. (45-cm) evergreen upright shoots with many-fingered rays of outstretched flat branches. They are usually without annual bud constrictions. Cande-labras of fertile cones stand upright on slender stalks. This species is a common Zone 3 to 6 North American endemic, native to mixed forests from New England south to the Carolinas and west to Minnesota.
Diphasiastrum sitchense (from Sitka, Alaska), the Sitka clubmoss, synonym Lycopodium sitchense, presents dense evergreen clusters of upright 4- to 6-in. (10- to 15-cm)
branching spikes arising from compact-spreading horizontal stems. The branchlets differ from fellow Diphasiastrum colleagues in being round instead of flat.Vertical cones are without stalks and gathered at the tips of the shoots. Yet another Zone 2 or possibly Zone 1 alpine, this circumboreal species relishes a home in meadows, rocky woodlands, and above the treeline in the forbidding cold areas of northern Canada, Kamchatka, Japan, and parts of Asia.
Diphasiastrum tristachyum (dull spikes), the blue ground cedar, synonyms Diphasium tristachyum and Lycopodium tris-tachyum, has widely spreading buried horizontal stems. The upright, flat-topped, 12-in. (30-cm) evergreen shoots are blue-green with fanlike lower branches. The fertile stalks look like upright dinner forks extending in a slender fashion 3 in. (7.5 cm) above the sterile. This is a common fern in the forests, frequently with oak and pine, of eastern North America and is involved in more hybrid combinations than any other North American Diphasiastrum.
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