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Lycopodiella inundata


Lycopodiella inundata (L.) Holub. is also known as Lycopodium inundatum L.

Its common name is Marsh Clubmoss.

Chromosome No.: 2n = 156 (Stace 2010).

Lycopodiella inundata

Photography: M. Cotterill


The main populations in Britain are found in the south of England, in the New Forest and on heaths in Hampshire and Surrey. It also occurs in Scotland, in bogs and on the margins of lakes. Between these two centres of population there are a few isolated localities such as North Wales and Cumbria. It was once more widespread, but it disappeared from many sites in England prior to 1930 as a result of drainage and agricultural intensification. Its highest recorded altitude is 390 m at Llyn Cwmffynnon (v.c. 49) by Trevor Dines in 1999 (Pearman 2004).

It has a curious distribution globally, in scattered locations throughout much of Europe, and is on both the east and west coasts of North America (mapped by GBIF as Lycopodium inundatum), where it is rare.

BSBI Hectad Map 

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It is a short-lived perennial of bare peat in mires and heaths. Rasmussen & Lawesson (2002) studied its contrasting ecology in England and Scotland and concluded that the closest vegetation type for it in England was M16 Erica tetralix-Sphagnum compactum heath, whereas in Scotland it occurred in M15 Trichophorum cespitosum-Erica tetralix heath and M29 Hypericum elodes-Potamogeton polygonifolius soakways. In its lowland English sites it is often maintained by drastic management activities to produce bare soil, whereas on the edge of peaty lochs in Scotland the harsh conditions and fluctuating water levels produce this habitat naturally.

  • Origin: it is considered native to Britain and Ireland. The first British record was by Christopher Merrett (1666) at Putney Heath in Surrey.
  • Rarity: Nationally Scarce in Britain and rare in Ireland.
  • Threat: currently listed as Endangered in the JNCC’s Red List due to its Change index of -0.65.
  • Conservation: it is a Priority BAP plant in the United Kingdom.
Further Work 

Rasmussen and Lawesson (2002) suggested that the more natural Scottish populations should receive more attention than the putatively archaeophytic populations in southern England, claiming this would be more likely to be successful. Detailed studies on the success rate of conservation programmes might therefore prove interesting.

  • Headley, A.D. Lycopodiella inundata (L.) Holub. In Stewart, A., Pearman, D.A., & Preston, C.D. 1994. Scarce Plants in Britain. JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Merrett, C. 1666. Pinax Rerum Naturalium Britannicum.
  • Pearman, D.A. 2004. Altitudinal Limits of British and Irish Vascular Plants. BSBI.
  • Rasmussen, K.K. & Lawesson, J.E. 2002. Lycopodiella inundata in British plant communities and reasons for its decline. Watsonia 24, 45-55.
Lockton, A.J. (date accessed). Species account: Lycopodiella inundata. Botanical Society of the British Isles,