Friday, November 21, 2008

Lycopodium Obscurum, or Not a Pine

These are not pine saplings. They are an ancient type of organism called clubmoss. Before trees ruled the land, clubmosses were the towering giants. Imagine one of these with a trunk four feet in diameter, standing as tall as an office building.

Common names for this humble survivor are “ground fir”, “tree clubmoss”, and “princess pine”. Its spores are the original photographer’s flash powder. Now, it is hard to find because it has been a popular winter decoration.

Princess pine is supposedly hard to transplant, but these seem to be doing well more than a month since Marna dug them for me. She scooped out a good chunk of their native soil when she dug them, and I planted them in the bed of perpetually-moist bog muck along my wooded path. So far that seem to like their new home.

[Update] As of May 2010, these guys are looking pitiful. I expect them to die eventually. Dang it. That will teach me to try the "big shovel full of dirt" method. Some plants (and plant-like organisms) need to be left where they grew.


Kate Sokol said...

Hey Michelle, thanks!

I know a few people who read the Slow Food blog are interested in plant identification. Do you mind if we add you to our links list?

All best,

Michelle said...

Hello Kate! I'm flattered to be asked. Link to your heart's content! :D

Becky said...

I'm about to post some wild Princess pine and checked Google images to make sure I had the correct name. Your looks very much like my wild patch right down to the leaf litter.I will check for you on Blotanical and if you are not there I will add you to my bloglines.You don't seem at all clueless to me!