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Alpine Clubmoss

Diphasiastrum alpinum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Lycopodiaceae (Clubmoss)
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres long
Gardens, grassland, moorland, mountains, woodland.
Clubmosses have cones which contain seeds. They are flowerless.
Unstalked cones (to 3cm long) which are greyer than the leaves. The spores ripen in August.
A creeping clubmoss with closely appressed, dull greyish-green leaves. The stems are slightly flattened. Grows up to 20cm (8 inches) in height.
Other Names:
Northern Fir Clubmoss.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Diphasiastrum alpinum, also known as alpine clubmoss or northern fir clubmoss, is a species of plant in the family Lycopodiaceae. It is native to cold, temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Alpine clubmoss is a small, herbaceous plant that grows in a creeping or spreading habit. It has small, scale-like leaves and produces small, green or brownish-green flowers. It is commonly found in coniferous forests and is used in horticulture as an ornamental plant.


Alpine Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum alpinum) is a species of clubmoss that is found in the sub-alpine and alpine regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is a low-growing, evergreen plant that belongs to the family Lycopodiaceae.

Alpine Clubmoss is a slow-growing plant that can reach a height of 10-15 cm. It has a prostrate growth habit and forms dense mats of stems and leaves. The leaves are linear and have a shiny green appearance, and they are arranged in a spiral pattern along the stems. The plant produces small, yellow-green, spike-like cones that are found at the tips of the stems.

One of the key characteristics of Alpine Clubmoss is its ability to tolerate harsh conditions. It is commonly found in alpine environments where temperatures are low, snow cover is frequent, and growing conditions are difficult. The plant is able to survive in these conditions due to its ability to produce a waxy cuticle on its leaves that helps to reduce water loss.

In addition to its ability to tolerate harsh conditions, Alpine Clubmoss is also known for its ecological importance. It is a food source for many species of mammals, such as reindeer and caribou, and it provides a habitat for many other species of plants and animals. The plant is also a key component of the alpine food chain, as it provides a source of energy and nutrients for other organisms in the ecosystem.

Despite its ecological importance, Alpine Clubmoss is threatened by many environmental factors. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the plant, as it is sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation patterns. Overgrazing by domestic livestock and human activities, such as construction and recreational activities, can also negatively impact the species.

To help protect Alpine Clubmoss and other threatened species, it is important to understand the ecological role of these plants and their importance to the ecosystem. Conservation efforts, such as the creation of protected areas and the implementation of sustainable land use practices, can help to ensure the survival of this important species for future generations.

Alpine Clubmoss is a fascinating and important species that plays a crucial role in the alpine ecosystem. Despite the challenges it faces, it remains an important food source and habitat for many species of plants and animals. By understanding its ecological importance and taking steps to protect it, we can ensure that this important species will continue to thrive in the years to come.

Another aspect of Alpine Clubmoss that makes it unique is its ability to produce a type of bioactive compound known as lycopodium alkaloids. These compounds have been found to have a wide range of medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.

In traditional medicine, Alpine Clubmoss has been used to treat a variety of ailments, such as rheumatism, asthma, and bronchitis. In modern times, these bioactive compounds have been the subject of extensive research and are being studied for their potential use in the development of new drugs.

Another interesting aspect of Alpine Clubmoss is its cultural significance. In many cultures, clubmosses were believed to have magical properties and were used in religious and medicinal rituals. In some cultures, they were even believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to be mindful of the potential impacts of harvesting Alpine Clubmoss. Over-harvesting or collecting the plant from its natural habitat can have a negative impact on the species and the ecosystem as a whole. Therefore, it is important to take a sustainable approach to the collection and use of Alpine Clubmoss and other similar species.

In conclusion, Alpine Clubmoss is a fascinating and important species that plays a vital role in the alpine ecosystem and has a rich cultural and medicinal history. By understanding its ecological significance, conserving its natural habitat, and taking a sustainable approach to its use, we can help to ensure the survival of this unique and valuable species for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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