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Selaginella uncinata


Selaginella uncinata (Desv.) Spring

Family Name: Selaginellaceae
Synonyms: Lycopodium uncinatum Desv., Lycopodioides uncinata (Desv.) Kuntze
Common Name: Peacock Moss, Blue Spike Moss, Rainbow Moss, 翠云草

Selaginella uncinata or Peacock Moss is a scrawling herb that can grow more than 100 cm long. Leaves are papery, green to metallic blue-green coloured. It produces two sets of foliage, the leaves along the sides of the main stem are larger than the paired, overlapping leaves on the main stem. The strobilus is produced singly at the tip of the branch.


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Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
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Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Allies (Non-Seed Vascular Plants)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Central & South China to Vietnam
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Mountain, Primary Rainforest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Tropical, Temperate
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a scrawling herb that grows between 50 - 100 cm or more. It can also be found hanging, climbing or as an epiphyte on rocky walls.
Foliage Leaves are papery, white-margined, green to metallic blue-green coloured. It has two sets of foliage, the larger leaves along the sides of the main stem and smaller pairs of leaves on the main stem. The larger leaves are broadly elliptic to round, 3 - 4 mm long and 2 - 3 mm wide. The smaller leaves are asymmetrical, oval-shaped, overlapping one another.
Reproductive Parts - non-flowering plant The spore-bearing structure known as a strobilus is compact, ovate-triangular shaped, produced singly at the tip of the branch, measuring 5 - 25 mm long by 2.5 - 4 mm wide.
Habitat Occurs in primary or old secondary forest, hill slopes, river margins or swamps.
Cultivation It thrives in shaded and moist conditions, tend to be intolerable to intense light and drought. To maintain the color of the foliage, a bright location away from direct light is preferred.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Shade, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Occasional Misting
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Division, Spore


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Green - Bluish Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green - Bluish Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Sessile
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical, Orbicular / Round, Ovate)
Foliar Venation Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate, Acute, Mucronate
Foliar Base Cordate, Rounded / Obtuse

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Rhizome)



Setyawan, A.D. (2014). Short Communication: A new record of naturalised Selaginella uncinata (Desv.) Spring (Selaginellaceae) from Java, Indonesia. Biodiversitas, 15(2): 261-268.

Zhang, X., Nooteboom, H.P. & Kato, M. (2013). Selaginellaceae. In: Wu, Z.Y., Raven, P.H., & Hong, D.Y. (eds) Flora of China, vol. 2-3, pp. 37 - 66. Beijing: Science Press; St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden Press. 

Image Repository



Master ID 34269
Species ID 8682
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 21 November 2022.