Why Selaginella is called spike moss?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

Selaginella is called spike moss because of its unique and distinctive appearance. The sporophytes of Selaginella species have a spiky, moss-like appearance, with their leaves arranged in a dense, compact manner. This gives them the appearance of a moss, hence the common name “spike moss.”

The term “spike” in spike moss refers to the spiky nature of the leaves. The leaves of Selaginella species are scale-like and densely packed, giving the plant a spiky texture. This spikiness is a distinguishing characteristic of Selaginella and sets it apart from other plants.

The name “spike moss” is also a reference to the reproductive structures of Selaginella. Like other members of its family, Selaginella is heterosporous, meaning it produces two different types of spores. These spores give rise to two different types of gametophytes: microgametophytes and megagametophytes.

The microgametophytes produce male gametes, while the megagametophytes produce female gametes. This reproductive strategy is more advanced than that of other related plants, such as the Lycopodiaceae family. It is also a characteristic shared with seed plants, which further highlights the advanced nature of Selaginella’s reproductive system.

Selaginella is called spike moss due to its spiky, moss-like appearance and its unique reproductive strategy. The name captures both the physical characteristics and the biological features of this fascinating plant.