Exploding Lycopods

ground cedar detail

Would ya look at dose scales?

Lycopods. Scaly, sporey, vascularly lycopods. Also called club mosses. Anyway, they have spores instead of seeds, scales instead of proper leaves, and vessels within the structure of the plant to carry nutrients called xylem and phloem, same as all the rest of the vascular plants. And they are definitely a plant, but a primitive plant. The local species is Lycopodium digitatum, or ground cedar. Nifty looking little thing. Makes a nice ground cover.

Ground cedar everywhere

Ground cedar all over the ground.


Lycopods have been around a while,at least 410 million years. Meaning they showed up on land before anything with a spine started walking around. Some lycopds were ENORMOUS, good enough to be called trees as long as you use “big green thingy with a straight bit and some floofy bits at the top and bigger than a truck” as your definition of tree. The extant species are mostly small. Ground cedar is about four inches tall.


Single plant, strobili in a bowl, half knitted hat. The strobili will dry out over the next week, releasing spores, which may then be set on fire. Should be ready about the same time as the hat.

The spores have an extra interest. They ignite explosively if poofed into the air. Which will have to be tried. Apparently this used to be used as flash powder for photography and random stage productions, any time you needed a sudden bright light and a fireball. Don’t you need a fireball?


“Lycopodiophyta” Wikipedia, available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycopodiophyta. Accessed February 10, 2015.

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