New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: Naturalised
Selaginella kraussiana is a perennial ground-cover plant that is superficially similar to many native mosses and leafy liverworts but is actually a fern-ally.
Leaves are small (3 to 4mm long), in four rows. The two lateral rows have spreading oval leaves with pointed tips. The two upper rows have leaves flattened against the stems, with tapering tips. Stems are creeping, irregularly-branched and root at the nodes to form a loose mat. Spores are borne on stalkless, rounded cones up to 10mm long that occur underneath the leaves. Although propagation is by spores, it is also spread by fragments of the stems which can be carried by livestock, tramping boots and machinery.
In forests, S. kraussiana smothers native seedlings enabling other weeds such as vines to establish. It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord as an invasive species.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader