Lycopodiella inundata

Tracheophyta LycopodiopsidaLycopodiaceaeLycopodiellaLycopodiella inundata


A prostrate perennial herb of wet, bare, peaty or sandy margins of lakes, pools, flushes and trackways. It can rapidly colonise substrates kept open by winter inundation, cattle poaching or peat cutting. 0-390 m (Llyn Cwmffynnon, Caerns.).



World Distribution

European Boreo-temperate element; also in E. Asia and N. America.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 9

Moisture (Ellenberg): 9

Reaction (Ellenberg): 2

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 1


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1122

Life form information

Height (cm): 5

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Shortly creeping and rooting at nodes

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 233

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 18

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.65

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


External Species Accounts

Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Lycopodiella inundata (L.) Holub

Marsh clubmoss

Status: scarce

L. inundata is a short-lived perennial of bare peaty, occasionally silty or sandy, areas on mires, heaths, lake margins and sand and clay pits. These areas are normally submerged under water in winter and spring. It is most commonly associated with Sphagnum auriculatum and Rhynchospora alba on the edge of valley mires of the New Forest. Rhynchospora fusca, Drosera intermedia and Hammarbya paludosa are sometimes found growing with L. inundata. Human activities which provide areas of bare, seasonally flooded, well humified, acidic peat, such as tracks and old peat cuttings, favour this species. It is most common where high grazing pressure results in the poaching of wet heath and mire surfaces. Where bare ground is present it may become locally abundant. It is virtually restricted to lowland sites, but reaches 305 metres at Loch Ba.

Branches remain evergreen for two years, after which the clone fragments by disintegration of the older sections of the branches. It spreads relatively slowly at 2 to 10 cm each year. Strobili produced in summer mature in the autumn. Spores may be dispersed by air or by water within intact sporangia when the plant becomes submerged. The gametophyte stage is superficial and green and takes a few years to reach maturity. Other members of its genus reproduce more readily by sexual means than species of Lycopodium.

The drainage of bogs and successional changes in its habitat have resulted in this species disappearing from many sites in lowland England. In southern England it has increasingly become restricted to areas kept open by human disturbance. Until recently it has remained somewhat overlooked around the margins of Scottish lochs. 

L. inundata is found throughout most of Europe, except the Mediterranean region, but it has declined markedly in recent times. Its European distribution is mapped by Jalas & Suominen (1972). It is also found on the eastern and western sides of North America.

A. D. Headley

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (1b) Byfield A, Pearman D
1996.  Dorset's disappearing heathland flora. Curtis TGF, McGough HN
1988.  The Irish Red Data Book. 1. Vascular Plants. Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1972) Bangerter EB, Cannon JFM, Jermy AC
1978.  Ferns and their allies. The Island of Mull: a survey of its flora and environment. :12.1-12.7. Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols. Page CN
1997.  The ferns of Britain and Ireland, edn 2. Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.