Friday, December 16, 2011
Stiff Club Moss
A forest of miniature pines pokes its way through the snow covered bog. These tiny evergreens are stiff club moss (Lycopodium annotinum) one of several club mosses native to boreal forests.
A favorite treat for moose, stiff club moss was used by Native Americans to aid clotting and the highly flammable spores were an ingredient in the original flash powder used by early photographers.
The stiff club moss spreads through surface rhizomes, but also produces spores on the top (as opposed to the shiny club moss that looks similar but has spores on the sides of the plant). Cool fact: not only are the spores highly flammable, they are water repellent. Brush your finger through a bunch of stiff club moss spores and dip it in water: your finger is completely dry!
All club mosses are highly fragile and don't transplant easily or survive heavy foot traffic. They are found throughout much of the U.S. and northern Europe, and often grow in white or black spruce forests along with cloudberry, mooseberry and twinflower. (US Forest Service)