Club Moss
Club mosses(also known as ground pines) are vascular, seedless, flowerless plants. They are one of the oldest living vascular plants. The club mosses are part of the family Lycopodiaceae and the Phylum Lycophyta. The Lycophytes were once a large group of land plants that existed during the Carboniferous Period. These lycophytes grew to be as tall as 100 feet. About 250 million years ago though, most of the species had died out.

The club mosses that we know of today are evergreen plants with needle-like leaves. Like other vascular plants, club mosses have true roots, leaves and stems. This allows for the plant to absorb water and minerals. The club mosses also have an underground horizontal stem called a rhizome. The club mosses get their name because of the club shape of their spore bearing structure.

Club moss with roots, leaves, rhizome and stem.
Club Moss

HabitatClub mosses live in a wide range of environments, from artic to tropical regions. They are mostly found in the Northern Hemisphere. These small plants live in moist woodlands and near streambeds and marshes, because they are vascular and need water to survive.

Life Cycle

Club mosses reproduce by spores and spore-bearing structures called strobili rather than through flowers(because they do not have any). Due to the fact that they are vascular plants, club mosses need water to reproduce. Throughout their life cycle, club mosses switch back and forth between a diploid and haploid stage, also known as alternation of generations. The diploid stage is the spore-producing stage and the haploid stage is the gamete-producing stage. In club mosses, the diploid sporophyte stage is dominant. Club mosses can reproduce sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction begins when the sporangia, which is the spore producing structure, is mature and is ready to release its spores. Then one of two types of sexual reproduction can take place, homosporous or heterosporous. Homosporous is when only one size of spore is produced. The spore germinates into a bisexual gametophyte. The gametophyte releases the sex cells, or gametes, which produce a zygote. The zygote, over time, then develops into a sporophyte, the plant.

Homosporous Life Cycle in club mosses is when one only one size of spore is produced.
Heterosporous is when two sizes of spores are produced. The spore germinates into a gametophyte. The gametophyte will then produce megaspores(egg) and microspores(sperm). After receiving water, the sperm will swim out of the microsprorangium and go inside the megasporangium, where it will fertilize the egg. After many years, the sporophyte will grow out of the megasporangium.
Heterosporous life cycle in club mosses is when two sizes of spore are produced.
Asexual Reproduction in club moss can occur through the rhizomes. The rhizomes tunnel through the soil and they produce roots. The roots then send vertical shoots above the ground, which forms the independent club mosses.

UsesThe ancestors of club moss helped form coal during the carboniferous period. In the early 20th century, the spores of club moss were used as baby powder and in the early days of surgery it was used as a dusting powder. At a health food store, the powdered spores may be found as "vegetable sulphur". This powder is also dusted on diaper rashes and can help heal bed sores. For cramps in the leg, club moss can be wrapped around in a cloth and placed in the calf. The yellow flammable spores of the club moss were used in fireworks because they are flammable and explode when burnt. These spores were also used by stage designers to create lighting for their plays.
Club Moss powder.
The flammable club moss spores.