Plants of the genus Selaginella

Today we are going to talk about a genus of plants that has numerous evergreen species and that are cultivated for different purposes. It is the genus Selaginella. They are plants that come from the humid tropical forests and that have adapted to live in different environmental conditions. They are perfect for different uses that we will see throughout this article.

In this post we are going to tell you the main characteristics of Selaginella, how to care for them and how to maintain them.

Main features

It is a genus of evergreen plants that are cultivated to serve as a plant cover as a dense carpet with lots of grass and also as a vine to decorate walls. Being native to humid tropical forests they need some more specific conditions. However, they have managed to adapt to living in different environments for long periods of time. One of these conditions in which it can survive that does not correspond to its natural habitat is arid conditions.

Faced with these more adverse conditions for them, they have adapted thanks to the small leaves that it has that are reversed by a thick cuticle. In addition, they have adapted creating a tendency to lock themselves up like a ball. By doing this they reduce the amount of surface that is open to perspiration. So when there are higher temperatures and less humidity, they are less sensitive to water loss through perspiration. When they see that conditions are more acceptable again, they return to the natural way to take water from the environment again. This action causes them to be called resurrection plants, because it is as if they revived after a calmer period.

In terms of size, these plants are small but have a remarkable growth or volunteer rather prostrate and upright with abundant ramifications. We could say that, despite being a plant that does not have remarkable dimensions, it has a lot of density thanks to its ramifications. Not only do the stems have many divisions, but the roots also cover a lot of surface. The stem is devoid of knots and internodes.


The leaves are quite small in size but have scales provided at the base of a small appendage along the different ramifications of the stem. A This is called lígula and is intended to absorption of water is deposited on the leaves. Having developed in humid tropical environments, they have acquired this ability to absorb water through environmental humidity. Let’s not forget that in these environments, and the humidity is quite high throughout the year. The ligule is attached through a system of vessels to the circulatory system of the plant. This serves so that the water can be sent quickly to the central system.

This plant does not produce flowers but does have a sporophyte. That is, small leaves that produce sporangia, which are organs destined for reproduction. It is something similar to what ferns have.

Main species of the genus Selaginella

Selaginella Lepidophylla

This plant is quite widespread in the area of ​​Central and South America. Its main characteristics is to form a kind of rosetta with green leaves that look like ferns. They turn reddish as they develop and reach maturity. It has a peculiarity and that is that, when the weather is particularly dry, they close like a ball, as we have mentioned before, to be able to adapt to these low-water conditions. When conditions become more favorable again, they return to their normal position.

Selaginella kraussiana

It is a climbing type plant originating from East Africa. Its main characteristic is that it grows very quickly. Its stems produce numerous roots that develop and form a kind of pillow rich in leaves. It is a fairly dense plant and there are some varieties that stand out for their yellow-gold leaf colors.

Selaginella martensii

This plant is native to Mexico and is the most widespread and well-known species in the world. It is not a climbing species but has several boiled stems that are inclined outwards. Its leaves are wider and more showy than other species and have a bitumen green color.

Cultivation and care of Selaginella

This plant is not a species that requires overly demanding care. What we do have to take into account is the location. This plant prefers shady areas and does not speak should give direct sun. It is best to locate it in an area where it is away from drafts and has stable temperatures throughout the year. The most ideal temperatures are those that become between 16 and 18 degrees.

Regarding irrigation and humidity, the spring and summer period is where the irrigation has to be more frequent. We must remember that this plant is native to humid tropical areas. For this reason, it is their thing to try that the plant has conditions similar to that of its natural habitat. Ideally, in the substrate or always humid throughout the year but not become soaked. The soil must have good drainage so that puddles do not arise with excess irrigation.

It is true that this plant requires a little higher watering than usual since it needs high humidity. However, this does not indicate that the soil should be flooded. We can also add a sprayer so that the leaves are damp all the time. Thanks to the ability of these plants to absorb water through their leaves, they can make perfect use of the irrigation water that is thrown over the roots. Especially we must do this if the temperatures increase above 20 degrees in a constant way.

If you want, you can fertilize during the spring and summer season to ensure that the plant has enough nutrients to withstand the warmer season. Let’s not forget that this plant has acquired a kind of evolution and tactic for the warmer times.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about Selaginella.


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