Page author: Ben Legler
Huperzia occidentalis
western clubmoss
Note the widely spreading, broad leaves, and the tan sproangia in the leaf axils.
Leaves are clearly broadest above the middle.

Distribution: Coastal ranges from SE Alaska and SW Yukon south to Oregon; also in SE British Columbia, northern Idaho, and northwest Montana. Not found outside North America. In Washington, found from the west side of the Cascades west to the coast.

Habitat: In shaded conifer forest, usually where moist such as along streams and in depressions; rooted on decaying logs, duff, or soil. Low to mid elevations.

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Large moss-like plants; stems erect from short-creeping bases, sparsely branched, 4-20 cm tall, leafy throughout; dark green.


Dark green, 6-10 mm long, mostly oblanceolate (widest above middle), minutely few-toothed, arranged in tight spirals around stem, widely spreading, giving the stem a prickly look.


Spores contained in sporangia, which resemble small tan kidney-shaped pouches distributed along much of stem, one sporangium per leaf axil. Also with gemmae (small flattened vegetative propagules) in 1 pseudowhorl near tip of stem.

Identification Notes:

The oblanceolate leaves that are clearly widest above the middle distinguish H. occidentalis from our other 2 Huperzia species, both of which have lanceolate leaves that are widest at the base. Also note the habitat in humid shaded conifer forest.

Accepted Name:
Huperzia occidentalis (Clute) Kartesz & Gandhi
Publication: Phytologia. 70: 201. 1991. 1991.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Huperzia porophila (F.E. Lloyd & Underw.) Holub, misapplied [FNA2]
Lycopodium selago L., misapplied [HC]
Lycopodium selago L. var. patens (P. Beauv.) Desv., misapplied
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Huperzia occidentalis in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Huperzia occidentalis checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Huperzia occidentalis information.

E-Flora BC: Huperzia occidentalis atlas page.

CalPhotos: Huperzia occidentalis photos.

USDA Plants: Huperzia occidentalis information.

25 photographs:
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