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Fossil range: 428 Ma
Silurian[citation needed] to recent
Lycopodiella cernua
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Lycopodiophyta
Cronquist, Takht. & W.Zimm.[1] [P.D. Cantino & M.J. Donoghue][2]

Lycopodiopsida - clubmosses
Isoetopsida - spikemosses, quillworts, scale trees
† Zosterophyllopsida - zosterophylls

The Division Lycopodiophyta (sometimes called Lycophyta or Lycopods) is a tracheophyte subdivision of the Kingdom Plantae. It is the oldest extant (living) vascular plant division at around 410 million years old,[3]:99 and includes some of the most "primitive" extant species. These species reproduce by shedding spores and have macroscopic alternation of generations, although some are homosporous while others are heterosporous. Members of Lycopodiophyta bear a protostele, and the sporophyte generation is dominant. [4] They differ from all other vascular plants in having microphylls, leaves that have only a single vascular trace (vein) rather than the much more complex megaphylls found in ferns and seed plants.



There are around 1,200[5]:8 living species divided into three main groups within the Lycopodiophyta, sometimes separated at the level of order and sometimes at the level of class. These are subdivided at the class level here:

  • Class Lycopodiopsida – clubmosses and firmosses
  • Class Isoetopsida – quillworts, scale trees, and spikemosses. The spikemosses are sometimes classified under Selaginellopsida.[6]


The members of this division have a long evolutionary history, and fossils are abundant worldwide, especially in coal deposits. In fact, most known genera are extinct. The Silurian species Baragwanathia longifolia represents the earliest identifable Lycopodiophyta, while some Cooksonia seem to be related.

Fossils ascribed to the Lycopodiophyta first appear in the Silurian period, along with a number of other vascular plants. Phylogenetic analysis places them at the base of the vascular plants; they are distinguished by their microphylls and by transverse dehiscence of their sporangia (as contrasted with longitudinal in other vascular plants). Sporangia of living species are borne on the upper surfaces of microphylls (called sporophylls). In some groups, these sporophylls are clustered into strobili.

During the Carboniferous period, tree-like Lycopodiophyta (such as Lepidodendron) formed huge forests and dominated the land. Unlike modern trees, leaves grew out of the entire surface of the trunk and branches, but would fall off as the plant grew, leaving only a small cluster of leaves at the top. Their remains formed many fossil coal deposits. In Fossil Park, Glasgow, Scotland, fossilized Lycopodiophyta trees can be found in sandstone. The trees are marked with diamond-shaped scars where they once had leaves.


Club-mosses are homosporous, but spike-mosses and quillworts are heterosporous, with female spores larger than the male, and gametophytes forming entirely within the spore walls.

The spores of Lycopodiophyta are highly flammable and so have been used in fireworks.[7] Currently, huperzine, a chemical isolated from a Chinese clubmoss, is under investigation as a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease.



  1. ^ Cronquist, A.; A. Takhtajan, W. Zimmermann (1966). "On the higher taxa of Embryobionta". Taxon 15 (15): 129–134. doi:10.2307/1217531. 
  2. ^ Cantino, Philip D.; James A. Doyle, Sean W. Graham, Walter S. Judd, Richard G. Olmstead, Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, & Michael J. Donoghue (2007). "Towards a phylogenetic nomenclature of Tracheophyta". Taxon 56 (3): E1–E44. 
  3. ^ McElwain, Jenny C.; Willis, K. G.; Willis, Kathy; McElwain, J. C. (2002). The evolution of plants. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850065-3. 
  4. ^ Eichhorn, Evert, and Raven (2005). Biology of Plants, Seventh Edition. 381-388.
  5. ^ Callow, R. S.; Cook, Laurence Martin (1999). Genetic and evolutionary diversity: the sport of nature. Cheltenham: S. Thornes. ISBN 0-7487-4336-7. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  7. ^ Cobb, B (1956) A Field Guide to Ferns and their related families: Northeastern and Central North America with a section on species also found in the British Isles and Western Europe (Peterson Field Guides), 215

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Lycopdium (a genus) + -phyta

Proper noun


  1. (botany): A botanical name for a taxon within kingdom Plantae that includes the clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts. The taxon is traditionally given the rank of a division.
Wikispecies has information on:


See also


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Subdivisio: Lycopodiophyta
Classis: Lycopodiopsida

Vernacular names

Български: Плауновидни
Česky: Plavuně
Deutsch: Bärlapppflanzen
English: Lycophyta
Español: Lycophyta
Français: Lycophyte
Italiano: Licofite
עברית: בעלי קשקשים
Lietuvių: Pataisūnai
Magyar: Korpafüvek
Македонски: Ликоподиумови растенија
Nederlands: Wolfsklauwachtigen
日本語: ヒカゲノカズラ植物門
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Kråkefotplanter
Polski: Widłaki
Português: Lycophyta
Русский: Плауновидные
Suomi: Liekomaiset
Svenska: Lummerväxter
Türkçe: Kibrit otları
中文: 石松亚门
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Lycopodiophyta on Wikimedia Commons.


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