Palhinhaea cernua

Palhinhaea cernua (L.) Vasc. & Franco
(Latin: cernuus, nodding, drooping, in reference to the drooping branch tips)

Local names: nodding club-moss, stag-horn club-moss

Plant overwintering as buried stem tips, the rest dying; horizontal stems branching, rooting where they touch the ground, with remote leaves; upright stems to 45(–70) cm tall, many-branched (and resembling a miniature tree), with lateral branches drooping at tips; leaves linear-needle-like; strobili nodding, terminating branches, 4–8 mm long; sporophylls triangular-ovate, 1–2 mm long, coarsely toothed, wider than the sterile leaves; sporangia nearly globose, solitary at base o upper side of sporophylls. Hillside pitcher plant bog on wet but not inundated sand in full sun; Jasper Co. (Pineywoods) in the Angelina National Forest—known from two recently discovered plants and thus photographed but not collected (MacRoberts & MacRoberts 2860, photos at TEX-LL; MacRoberts & MacRoberts 1995a); Turner et al. (2003) also mapped Angelina and San Augustine cos. (but we have been unable to confirm these records and they are indicated by question marks on the county distribution map); se U.S. from SC s to FL w to AR and TX (Wagner & Beitel 1993); also tropics of Old and New worlds. Sporulating summer– fall. [Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic. Serm., Lycopodium cernuum L.] This species was previously known from the se U.S. w to AR and LA; the TX location is ca. 125 km sw of the nearest known location in LA, and as suchis the westernmost station for the species in the U.S. (MacRoberts & MacRoberts 1995a). Weakley (2010) speculated that its occurrence in the se U.S. “may be adventive,” but it is considered native by most authorities. This species, widespread in both the Old and New World tropics, is probably the world’s most abundant club-moss (Wagner & Beitel 1993). However, it is certainly one of the rarest native species in the TX flora. It is a showy species easily distinguished by the many-branched upright stems. The rare (and often transitory) occurrence of certain pteridophytes beyond the margins of their main range (e.g., Palhinhaea cernua in TX has sometimes been attributed to long-distance dispersal of spores by major storms or hurricanes (J. Peck, pers. comm.). Because of its rareness and limited distribution in the state, we consider this species to be of conservation concern in TX.

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