Urostachys varius (R.Br.) Herter ex Nessel; Lycopodium varium R.Br.; Lycopodium billardieri Spring; Lycopodium novae-zelandicum Colenso; Lycopodium varium var. alpinum R.Br.; Lycopodium varium var. umbrosum R.Br.; Lycopodium varium R.Br.; Lycopodium flagellaria sensu A.Rich.; Lycopodium phlegmaria sensu A.Cunn., Lycopodium novozealandicum Colenso; Huperzia varia (R. Br.) Trevis.
Vascular – Native
Lycophytes (clubmosses, selaginella, quillworts)
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = c.256
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened | Qualifiers: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. Kermadec (Raoul Island only), Three Kings, North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Antipodes, Campbell and Auckland Islands. Also Australia.
Coastal to subalpine. In forest (usually as an epiphyte), in scrub, often rupestral or in peat bogs
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
UPL: Obligate Upland
Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands (non-wetlands).
Terrestrial, lithophytic or epiphytic plants producing 1-many branches from near base. branches tufted, erect suberect if terrestrial or pendulous if epiphytic, branched 1-many times, 0.08-2.0 m long. Leaves spirally arranged, spreading, angled at 60-90 degrees to axis, linear-lanceolate, acute to subacute, 9-18 mm long, 1-3 mm wide, deep green to yellow-green, sometimes tinged orange; texture and thickness variable; margins entire, often thickened. Transition from sterile to sporogenous zone gradual or abrupt. Sporogenous zone 40-180 mm long, usually 3.5-4.5 mm diameter usually distinct from sterile leaves but sometimes scarcely discernible. Sporophylls variable; linear-lanceolate, spreading, shorter than sterile leaves, to 10 mm long, smaller towards apex; or ovate triangular, keeled, in 4-rows, imbricate, appressed, 2.0-2.5 mm long, 1.5-2.0 mm wide. Sporangia occupying one-tenth to the entire length of the sporophyll. Description adapted from Chinnock (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).
Epiphytic forms are easily distinguished from all other New Zealand representatives of the family. However, sterile, terrestrial forms can only be reliably distinguished from Huperzia australiana by the lack of bulbils and by the upper branch tips which tend or curl downwards rather than stay erect.
Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Can be grown from rooted pieces. These should be planted in a moist, free draining medium like orchid mix. Epiphytic forms make a spectacular hanging basket plant. Plants do best in partially shade and should never be allowed to dry out. Growth is usually rather slow.
Field & Bostock (2013) have revived the genus Phlegmariurus, a genus which applies to one of the New Zealand plants previously referred to Huperzia, H. varia - which is now known as Phlegmariurus varius. As currently circumscribed the New Zealand concept of Phlegmariurus varius includes a range of distinctive races some of which have valid names in Lycopodium. Some of these races need further critical taxonomic investigation, especially as they retain their growth habits in cultivation, under uniform conditions.
Factsheet prepared by P.J. de Lange 16 March 2011. Description adapted from Chinnock (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).
References and further reading
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman
Chinnock, R.J. 1998: Lycopodiaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 66-85.
Field, A.R.; Bostock, P.D. 2013: New and existing combinations in Palaeotropical Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae) and lectotypification of the type species Phlegmariurus phlegmaria (L.) T.Sen & U.Sen. PhytoKeys 20: 33–51 (2013) doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.20.4007
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Phlegmariurus varius Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/phlegmariurus-varius/ (Date website was queried)