Selaginellaceae : Spikemoss Family


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Lycopodiopida (club-moss)

Family: Selaginellaceae

Genera: 1

Species: 2

Selaginella selaginoides (Low Spikemoss)

Selaginella sibirica (Siberian Spikemoss)

English Name(s):

Spikemoss Family

Gwich'in Name:

Family Traits


  • Plants dwarf moss-like.
  • Perennial
  • Stems branchesd and creeping with erect, ascending or prostrate branches, leafy throughout.
  • Leaves small 1 viened, densly overlapping.
  • Sporangia (spore producing organs) In axils (spot where leaf joins the stem) of leaf-like sporophyls (sporangia housing) at topof branches.
  • Upper sporangia produce microspores (male spores). Lower sporangia produce macrospores (female spores).

Natural History:

  • Spores develop into a thalus and are firtalized before being shed.
  • The precence of 2 types of spores is thought to have led eventually to the bisexual condition found in flowering plants.

Family Size:


Genera: 1

Species: 700

North America:

Genera: 1

Species: ?


Genera: 1

Species: 2

Illustrated Key To Selaginaceae Species

Selaginella sibirica

Selaginella selaginoides

Dicotomous Key To Selaginaceae Species

  • A: Bristle tiped leaves with a grove on the back, Strobili (spore cone) square-shaped: S.sibirica
  • A: Leaves not bristle tiped and without grove on the back. Strobili cylindrical shaped: S.selaginoides

Life Cycle

  • Mature sporophyte (spikemoss plant) produces male and female spores in sporangia (spore producing organs).(top middle and right)
  • Spores are dropped from the sporangia to the ground. (middle/bottom right)
  • Spores germinate into a male or female gametophyte (gamete producing plant) thalus (plant body not differentiated into stems and leaves). (bottom left)
  • Mature gametophytes produce microspores (male gametes, sperm) or megaspores (female gametes, egg). (bottom middle)
  • When wet, such as after rain, the microspores (sperm) swim out of the microsporangium and into the megasporangium where one will fetilize the megaspore (egg). (bottom left)
  • The sporophyte then grows out of the megasporangium and the gemetophyte thalus dies. (top left)
  • The cycle begins again...

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