Running Cedar is the local popular name for this member of the Club-moss family. Although similar to mosses and some ferns, our running cedar has lengthening stems that are creeping on or near the ground. Spaced vegetative off-shoots along the stem are made up of ascending fan-shaped, much-divided, evergreen leaves.
In late season the fruiting spikes discharge a copious supply of spores in the form of a flammable, sulfur-colored powder known as lycopodium powder. In times past lycopodium powder had many uses; photographers used it as a flash-light source to brighten their surroundings. The evergreen quality of this sprawling, vine-like plant has made it a favorite in Christmas decorations.
Running cedar is found mostly in dry woods, slopes and pine lands. It is also called Christmas Green, Creeping Jenny, Creeping Pine, Ground Pine, Ground Cedar and Running Pine.
(Also see this photograph in larger format.)
Copyright © 2003 William T. Hathaway.