Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: club moss from Philip's Encyclopedia

Any of about 200 species of small evergreen spore-bearing plants which, unlike the more primitive true mosses, have specialized tissues for transporting water, food and minerals. They are related to ferns and horsetails. The small leaves are arranged in tight whorls around the aerial stems. Millions of years ago their ancestors formed the large trees that dominated Carboniferous coal forests. Phylum Lycopodophyta, Family Lycopodiaceae.


Summary Article: Lycopodiophyta from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(lì´´kōpō´´dēŏf'ətə), division of the plant kingdom consisting of the organisms commonly called club mosses and quillworts. As in other vascular plants, the sporophyte, or spore-producing phase, is the conspicuous generation, and the gametophyte, or gamete-producing phase, is minute. The living representatives are all rather small herbaceous plants, usually with branched stems and small leaves, but their fossil ancestors were trees. Like other vascular plants, the axes of this group have epidermis, cortex, and a central cylinder, or stele, of conducting tissue. The spore cases, or sporangia, are borne at the base of leaves, either scattered along the stem or clustered into a terminal cone or strobilus. At maturity, the sporangia split across the top, releasing great quantities of spores. The spores germinate to produce small, nongreen, fleshy gametophytes, which bear both sperm-producing antheridia and egg-producing archegonia. The motile sperms swim to the egg through a film of water. The fertilized egg, or zygote, gives rise to an embryo and eventually to a mature sporophyte. The order Lycopodiales includes the common genus Lycopodium, the larger of two genera (the other is Phylloglossum) belonging to this order and containing some 100 species. The order Selaginellales contains only one living genus, Selaginella, with perhaps 600 species, although fossil forms resembling Selaginella are known from deposits of the Carboniferous period (see resurrection plant). The order Isoetales (quillworts) contains the small genus Isoetes, which grows in shallow water in lakes, ponds, and marshy places. The plants have a grasslike appearance and are therefore often not readily identified. The order Lepidodendrales contains members known only from fossil specimens dating from the Upper Devonian to Permian times. Lepidodendron, the most common genus, was of tree size.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Lycopodiophyta (Lycophyta (Lycopodiopsida))
Penguin Dictionary of Biology

Club mosses. Plants that have an evolutionary lineage extending back to the Devonian period. The progenitors of the Lycopodiophyta were almost...

Full text Article CLUB MOSSES AND THEIR RELATIVES
Encyclopedia of Paleontology

Living organisms are endowed with the capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions. An excellent example of the emergence of a suite...

Full text Article club moss
The Penguin English Dictionary

noun any of a class of primitive vascular plants: order Lycopsida [ translation of scientific Latin muscus clavatus ; from the club-shaped...

See more from Credo