Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the upper Midwest and see an amazing explosion of fall color.

I spent one of those weekends visiting my mom Peggy in Northern Michigan.   Once the rain finished, we went out to the woods to have a look at some of the beautiful places Peggy likes to visit.  Even though it may not have been peak color time, the textures and colors of the Northern Michigan forests that weekend were still stunning.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

Daisy decided it was warm enough to go in the water.  She’s become much more daring in her old age.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

We had some fun taking panoramic pictures.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

After lunch, we headed to a new spot to check out a beaver house.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

We didn’t see any beavers, but saw some very active muskrats enjoying the warm fall day.

beaver house

On the walk back to the car, we were poking around in the woods.  I was particularly intrigued by the club-mosses that were so easy to spot this time of year.  I shot some pictures of my find, and then noticed my mom was also taking pictures.  She had seen the same thing in another spot and they had captured her interest as well!

Spinulum annotinum Stiff Clubmoss

Spinulum annotinum (Stiff Club-moss)

While we were looking at the Spinulum annotinum, we realized that there were a number of other species of club-mosses in the area.

Dendrolycopodium obscurum Tree Clubmoss

Dendrolycopodium obscurum (Tree Club-Moss)

Lycopodium clavatum Running Ground Pine

Lycopodium clavatum (Running Ground Pine)

Club-mosses are perennial, evergreen plants related to ferns and horsetails.   They spread by runners, either above or below ground (rhizomes) and get their name from the club-like, spore producing strobili found on top of many club-moss species.

IMG_3495 - Version 2

Club-mosses were often collected for Christmas decorations, but these are very slow growing plants and are now protected in most states.

As a bonus, there were lots of British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella), Pixie Cups (Cladonia chlorophaea complex) and Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in the area.

British Soldiers, Pixie Cups and Wintergreen

I’m always amazed at the fascinating things you can find just a few feet off the beaten trail.

Interesting Club-Moss Resources:

4 responses to “Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses

  1. Great autumn photos and so interesting about the club moss – I thought they were baby trees.

    • Thanks Jason. We were especially fooled by the Running Ground Pine until we realized they were attached to one another by above ground runners. Definitely not baby pine trees, so we knew we needed to investigate further.

  2. This is a very interesting article and thank you for identifying the different club mosses. Good pictures too and we had a great weekend!

    • Great weekend! It was fun finding all those different club-mosses and identifying them. There’s still a few more species in the area we can try to find next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *