Lycopodiella cernua


Lycopodiella: Diminutive of Lycopodium (little wolf's-foot)
cernua: drooping

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic. Serm.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Lycophytes (clubmosses, selaginella, quillworts)


Palhinhaea cernua (L.) Franco et Vasc.; Palhinhaea polycephala (Colenso) Holub; Lycopodium cernuum L.; Lepidotis cernua (L.) P.Beauv.; Lycopodium polycephalum Colenso


Indigenous. New Zealand. Kermadec, North, South, Chatham Islands (common from Te Paki south to Lake Taupo thence scarce reaching a southern limit at about Okarito). Also Australia, Pacific Islands and throughout the tropics and subtropics.


Coastal to montane on clay banks, in gumland, on consolidated sand dunes, kauri clay podzols, road side banks, in thermal scrub and around active fumaroles and craters


Terrestrial (rarely epiphytic) scrambling plants. Main stem up to 8 m long, creeping or looping over ground and rooting at pionts of contact. Aerial stems arising between rooting points, usually 1 per loop, 0.3-1(-2) m tall, dendroid, erect, much-branched, occasionally climbing, with apices curled over, glabrous or hairy. Sterile leaves spirally arranged to subwhorled, clustered, 1.5-5.0 mm long, 0.2-1.0 mm wide, linear to narrowly triangular, acuminate, curved towards shoot apices, green to yellowish green or yellow. Strobili numerous, solitary, terminal and sessile, 5-15 mm long, yellow. Sporophylls imbricate, ovate, acuminate, pale yellow; margins ciliate. Description adapted from Chinnock (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from all other New Zealand representatives of the faily by the extensive, looping main stems, "furry" aerial stems, and drooping strobili



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces but resents root disturbance so needs to be transplanted carefully. Once established Lycopodiella cernua is remarkably tolerant of dry conditions. This species is frost sensitive.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.200

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family




Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 16 March 2011. Description adapted from Chinnock (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

References and further reading

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

Chinnock, R.J. 1998: Lycopodiaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 66-85.

This page last updated on 4 Dec 2014