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Class LYCOPSIDA

Description: The Lycopsida are small, terrestrial or epiphytic, vascular plants which lack flowers and reproduce sexually by spores. The herbaceous sporophyte consists of true roots, an aerial stem and leaves which are small and spirally arranged on the elongated stem or are grass-like and tufted on a very short erect stem.

The spores are generally borne singly in the axils of specialized leaves (sporophylls) and these are often aggregated into cone-like strobili. The spores and sporangia are either all of one kind or of two different kinds. The thick-walled spores germinate into very small monoecious prothalli (gametophyte stage) that are mostly saprophytic. The sex cells which are produced on the prothalli develop into the independent sporophyte after fertilization.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 3 families, 5 genera, >1180 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: 3 families, 6 genera, 47 species, all States.

Text by Peter G. Wilson
Taxon concept:

 Key to the class LYCOPSIDA 
1Sporangia solitary in the axils of sporophylls, usually aggregated into cone-like structures2
Sporangia in pockets in the expanded bases of fleshy grass-like leavesISOETACEAE
2Minute ligule absent; sporangia of only one kindLYCOPODIACEAE
Minute ligule present at the base of each leaf and sporophyll; sporangia of 2 kinds, producing spores of different sizes
                       Back to 1
SELAGINELLACEAE

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