Scientific name

Selaginella P. Beauv.

Common names

spike-moss, peacock fern, peacock spike-moss, vine spike-moss, African club moss, garden selaginella



Similar genera


Native distribution

tropical and southern Africa and Asia

Species cultivated

(three species plus cultivated hybrids and varieties)

Selaginella kraussiana (Kunze) A. Braun

S. uncinata (Desv. ex Poir.) Spring

S. willdenowii (Desv. ex Poir.) Baker

Adventive distribution

introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Europe and the United States

Weed status

Selaginella kraussiana, S. uncinata, and S. willdenowii are considered significant weeds in several countries.


terrestrial, amphibious; erect

Brief description

Small to medium, fern-like. Spore-producing generation (sporophyte) is dominant, formed of evergreen, creeping to climbing stems. Stem is pinnately branched, angular with parallel grooves, glabrous; rhizophores present, basal spinelike protuberances may be present. Leaves arranged in 2 median and 2 lateral rows, delicate, papery, iridescent blue green. Median leaves ovate-lanceolate, transparent to green; apex acuminate; base auriculate; margin entire or dentate. Lateral leaves ovate to oblong; apex acute to rounded; base typically auriculate; margin entire or dentate. Spore-producing generation (sporophyte) emersed.

Natural habitat

moist areas along lakes, streams, rivers, and spring runs, under shrubs, in moist woods and hammocks

Additional comments

Selaginella is a genus containing over 350 species, none of which are truly aquatic, though some are tolerant of periods submersed. Selaginella willdenowii and S. uncinata are often offered as aquarium plants, but do not survive long term if submersed.