Tassel Ferns-Not Ferns at All
Elvin McDonald,Huperzia,Longwood Garden,Lycopodium carinatum,Lycopodium nummularifolia,Lycopodium phlegmaria,Matthaei Botanical Garden
|Lycopodium squarrosum at Matthaei Botanical Gardens|
I first saw Lycopodium (Huperzia) in Elvin McDonald’s book, The New Houseplant (page 45). It was a picture of a florist’s window in New York with one of these plants hanging in it. There was nothing to tell me what it was, as it was in the background of the picture. I loved it all the same. The next time I saw it was at a local greenhouse and I parted with a lot of money and bought it. It was quite a large hanging plant. I hung it in my greenhouse, but unfortunately it was too hot, it dried out and I lost it. I was so bummed.
So, the next time, I bought a small one, still expensive, and it is on my counter where I make sure it is watered and the humidity is high. I bought it last summer, and it has doubled in size. These aren’t the fastest growing plants.
Though the common name would lead you to believe they are ferns, they are not. They are spore producing and are distantly related to ferns. The ones we are discussing today are epiphytic. There are terrestrial ones as well, but not as easy to grow. They prefer moist, humid conditions and do not tolerate drying out for long, thus the reason my first one is dead. The name Lycopodium comes from the Greek lukos, wolf, and podion, foot. They are also known as ground pines or creeping cedar.
Imagine my excitement when I walked into the fern corridor at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. ( I was already ecstatic just to be there!) I was amazed to see these enormous specimens hanging from the ceiling. Wow! The following are pictures of those.
The next time I saw Lycopodiums was at a friend’s greenhouse. He had 3 different species and I love them! The pictures of those are below.
I have seen varieties of these for sale at the orchid shows. If you have a chance to own one of these, don’t pass it up. I think they are amazing plants and I would be thrilled if mine even remotely looked like the ones at Longwood someday.