Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
Key to families | Table of families and genera
Previous taxon Index to accepted names and synonyms:
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M |
| N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Next taxon

Selaginella watsonii

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SelaginellaceaeView Description 
Stem: wiry, generally rooting adventitiously [or not] from downward-growing leafless shoot-like structures (rhizophores), branching variable, generally not fragile when dry. Leaf: many, simple, overlapped, appressed, small, +- scale-like, 1-veined, generally grooved abaxially [or not] nearly to tip, generally +- of 2 kinds ("under-leaves" under main stem, "over-leaves" over it). Cone: paired or 1, terminal, generally 4-sided, fertile leaves not like sterile, generally strongly keeled. Sporangia: 1 per leaf axil, 2 kinds, male (generally more distal in cones, spores many, small), female (spores (1)4, large, generally orange-yellow).
Genera In Family: 1 genus, +- 700 species: worldwide, generally tropics, warm temperate.
Unabridged Note: Despite recent progress in understanding relationships (Zhou et al. 2016 Cladistics 32:360--389; Weststrand & Korall 2016 Amer J Bot 103:2136--2159), future taxonomic changes in the family are likely.
eFlora Treatment Author: Paul Wilson & Thomas J. Rosatti
Scientific Editor: Alan R. Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: SelaginellaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: SPIKE-MOSS

Etymology: (Latin: small Selago, ancient name for some Lycopodium) Note: Some cultivated as groundcover, curiosity: Selaginella kraussiana; Selaginella lepidophylla (Hook. & Grev.) Spring, resurrection plant. Hand lens, generally at +- 20×, required for leaves (shape, margin, awn at tip), cones.
Unabridged Note: All native California taxa are in the Rupestrae clade (Weststrand & Korall 2016 Amer J Bot 103:2160--2169), also treated as section Homoeophyllae (Zhou et al. 2015 Taxon 64:1117--1140) or, formerly, the nomenclaturally ambiguous subgenus Tetragonostachys (Jermy 1986 Fern Gazette 13:117--118). Selaginella shared a common ancestor with Isoetes, +- 380 million years ago (Larsén & Rydin 2016 Int J Pl Sci 177:157--174).
Selaginella watsonii Underw.
Habit: Plant in shaggy cushions, dense to +- open but branches generally close enough to +- obscure internodes, shoots with a robust, braided appearance; green aging +- orange-tan then gray. Leaf: of main stems 1.5--4 mm, 0.4--0.7 mm wide, lance-linear to oblong, decurrent, base glabrous; distance from end of abaxial groove to base of awn generally > 1/3 maximum leaf width, tips of leaves of sterile stems +- thickened around end of abaxial groove; awn 0.2--0.5 mm, generally entire, rigid. Cone: 5--35 mm.
Ecology: Open rocky sites, conifer forest, alpine; Elevation: 1350--4100 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR (Trinity Alps), SNH, TR, PR, n SNE, W&I, n DMtns (Telescope Peak); Distribution Outside California: to Oregon, Montana, Utah.
Jepson eFlora Author: Paul Wilson & Thomas J. Rosatti
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Selaginella wallacei
Next taxon: Aspleniaceae

Name Search

Botanical illustration including Selaginella watsonii

botanical illustration including Selaginella watsonii


Citation for this treatment: Paul Wilson & Thomas J. Rosatti 2012, Selaginella watsonii, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 24, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 24, 2022.

Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2015 Keir Morse
Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2015 Keir Morse
Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2012 Gary A. Monroe
Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2015 Keir Morse
Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2015 Keir Morse
Selaginella watsonii
click for enlargement
© 2015 Keir Morse

More photos of Selaginella watsonii in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Selaginella watsonii:
KR (Trinity Alps), SNH, TR, PR, n SNE, W&I, n DMtns (Telescope Peak)
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).