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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - November 15, 2011

From: Manchester, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants
Title: Looking for crowsfoot and standing spruce for Christmas wreaths in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, When I was a young child, my family would go out in the fall to pick two different plants for making Christmas wreaths. I recently found them on the farm across the street and want to make wreaths this year out of them, However I'd like to make sure that they are not endangered. I have only known them as Crows feet and Standing Spruce. I found the Crows feet on your website and see that it is unrestricted, however I would like to know about the Standing Spruce. It resembles a mini spruce tree and only stands about 8 inches tall. If you could help me, I would Greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. I would love to make these beautiful wreaths again for family and friends doors. Thank You.

ANSWER:

Lycopodium digitatum (Fan clubmoss) is also called crowfoot clubmoss and I believe that would be the plant you mean.  The USDA Plants Database lists it under the "Threatened and Endangered" category in New York. 

I haven't found any plant with the common name "Standing Cypress", but have some suggestions for what the plant you describe might be.  There iare a couple of other clubmosses that look like tiny spruce trees. Lycopodium obscurum, has several common names—common ground-pine, tree club moss, and rare clubmoss.  Unfortunately, the name rare clubmoss is appropriate since it is listed under the category "Threatened and Endangered" for New York and Indiana by the USDA.  Another possibility is Lycopodium dendroideum (tree groundpine), but it, too, is listed by the USDA Plants Database as "Threatened and Endangered" by Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Tennessee and Washington.

If you check the Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants of Maryland list from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, you will see that none of the above are on the list.   There is, however, one species of clubmoss, Lycopodium tristachyum (deeproot clubmoss or ground-cedar), on the list. 

Now, since the above plants are considered rare or threatened at least in some places, it is difficult to say whether you should collect them in the neighboring farm.  They might be abundant there, but scarce elsewhere.   You might consider contacting the Maryland Native Plant Society to see what there opinion is on the abundance of the species listed above.

 

From the Image Gallery


Fan clubmoss
Lycopodium digitatum

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