Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

Southern Ground Cedar (Fan Clubmoss) (Diphasiastrum digitatum) (Synonyms: Lycopodium digitatum, Lycopodium flabelliforme): Images

Date Location Notes Images
April 15, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire Southern Ground Cedar and other members of the Clubmoss (Lycopodiaceae) family are not related to moss, but considered closely related to ferns. Members of this Genus (Diphasiastrum) have a tree-like structure with a main stem and side branches (although the stems are so weak that the plant lies along the ground) and the stalks with the cone-like structures called strobili have branches of equal length on each fork. Notice the leaves along the branch are the little spine-like structure lying nearly flat against the branch. Note: all of the images in this section are of Southern Ground Cedar.

Southern Ground Cedar can be distinguished from similar Clubmosses:
  • Northern Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum complanatum) has only one or two strobili (cone-like structure) per stalk with Southern Ground Cedar has 2 to 4. Northern Ground Cedar has conspicuous annual bud constrictions near the tips of the branchlets. Southern Ground Cedar has no constrictions. Northern Ground Cedar has a straggly growth pattern, but you can see from the picture at the bottom right that the laternal (side) branches of Southern Ground Cedar align in the same plane giving it a more orderly, fan-like appearance.
  • Blue Ground Cedar (Deeproot Clubmoss) (Diphasiastrum tristachyum) has branches that are 4-angled (nearly square) in cross-section. It has a flat-topped growth form. The leaves on the top and underside of the branches are about the same size, while the underside leaves for both Southern Ground Cedar and Northern Ground Cedar are much small than the upper leaves. The plant tends to be blue-green in color. It has 3 to 4 strobili per stalk. The horizontal stem ground 2 or more inches underground, while the horizontal stem for Southern Ground Cedar grows at the ground level.
The strobili (cone-like structures) appear in the Fall and they contain spores that the plant can use to reproduce. Although the plant also spreads by rhizomes (horizontal underground stems).

When the strobili are collected in the late Summer and Fall, they can be dried to release a yellow powder (often referred to as Lycopodium Powder). The powder can be applied topically to treat skin conditions such as eczema, to prevent chafing and to apply to wounded tissue to absorb moisture. In Chinese Medicine, Lycopodium cernuum is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injuries and spasms of the arms and legs. In Western Herbal Medicine, Lycopodium spore powder has been used to treat edema (swelling), as a laxative, to treat diarrhea, to relieve gout, to treat scurvy, for bladder irritability and to ease rheumatism pains.
Date Location Notes Images
April 22, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire Found a small amount on another trail. It was pretty easy to identify since the branches were flattened, there were 2-4 strobili (cone-like growths on a stem, there were no annual constrictions at the end of the branchlets and the lateral branches were in the same plain as each other.
Date Location Notes Images
April 30, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire Found Southern Ground Cedar in a location with a lot of other clubmoss plants.