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Tassle Fern

Huperzia squarrosa

Other common names for this plant include firmoss or fir clubmoss. Not a true fern or a moss, this plant represents an intermediate stage in evolution from mosses to ferns. Rather than seeds, it reproduces via spores, just as ferns and mosses do.                                                                                                                  

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Lycopodiophyta
Class: Lycopodiopsida
Order: Lycopodiales
Family: Huperziaceae
Genus: Huperzia
Species: squarrosa


Natural habitat and growing conditions:

This plant is an ultra-tropical epiphyte (living on tree branches, though not as a parasite) native to tropical rain forests in Southeast Asia. It requires constant warmth, high humidity, bright light and a well-drained moist substrate to perform well.

Huperzia squarosa

Notes of interest:

  • The spores were used as flash powder for theater effects and cameras in the 19th century, as they burn quickly and brightly but with little heat.
  • The plant is structurally similar to the earliest vascular land plants; In the Carboniferous (359-299 million years ago) giant tree-like forms of Lycopodiophyta (the same division of plants as Huperzia, closely related) dominated the landscape; their remains form most of the coal we mine today.
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