Tables of Contents:
Volume I
Volume III
Volume II
Atlas    Index
All Four Volumes:
Scans and Webpage
©George Langford III, 2011




At the present epoch, the plants of this order, Lycopods, Selaginella, Isoetes, generally inhabit low, mossy places, under the deep shade of the forests, or the surface of the bogs,or the grassy slopes of the mountains, where atmospheric humidity prevails to a high degree. The few species which thrive upon dry rocks exposed to solar action, have the faculty of closing their leaves, even their stem, one upon another, in dry weather, opening them only, when humected by rain or fogs, to continue their interrupted growth. Isoetes species are either aquatic or amphibious.

From the habitat of the Lycopodiaceae, at the carboniferous epoch, we derive indications of the atmospheric circumstances which have exercised their influence upon the vegetation of the coal, whose combustible matter is composed in a great proportion of plants of this class, which flourished to a very high degree of luxuriance during the whole period of the Carboniferous. For the Lycopodiaceae were not then small herbaceous trailing plants, like those living now, but trees of a size equaling that of the largest arborescent plants of our time. Schimper says that trunks of Lepidodendron have been found one hundred feet long and ten to twelve feet in diameter. I have never seen any of this enormous size; but cylindrical stems or mere fragments of stems of this kind have been frequently observed forty to fifty centimeters thick, or more, either flattened in the roof shale of the coal, or preserved in their cylindrical normal shape in the sandstone.

The leaves of the Lycopodiaceae are generally in a spiral order, modified sometimes in their relative disposition, even in the same species. They are narrow, linear-lanceolate, of various length according to species, all with a strong midrib. Their point of attachment upon the stems is marked by scars of divers forms, which greatly vary in size, according to the age of the fragments, or rather of the part of the tree from which the fragments of bark are derived. It is essentially from the characters of these leaf scars that species of the Lepidodrendrae have been established.

The fructifications, rarely found attached to their support, are in cylindrical or ovate spikes, sessile or pedicellate, composed of sporanges attached to the anterior base of leaves or blades of various forms, which, curved upwards and imbricated, cover the outside of the cones. The sporanges contain organisms of two kinds, either very small ones (microspores), which are like powder or agglutinated globules of matter, distinct only with microscopes of great power. They may represent the male fertilizing pollen. Or, and more generally, they contain macrospores, large, true globular seeds, angular on one side, rounded on the other, as seen in Atlas, Plate LXVIII, f. 7, 7b, or Plate LXIX, f. 9, 9a.

As representatives of the Lycopodiaceae, we have in the American coal measures, with a few Lycopodites, the following genera, which are separated by Schimper into the family of the Lepidodendrae;—Lepidodendron, Ulodendron, Knorria, Lepidophloios, Halonia, Lepidostrobus, Lepidophyllum, and analogous organs of fructifications: Lepidocystis, Sporocystis.

I consider also as related to this order, from the nature of its fructifications, the genus Taeniophyllum formerly referred to the Cordaiteae from the characters of its long ribbon-like leaves. Psilophytum, Daws., is placed in the Lycopodiaceae by its author.


Plants herbaceous; leaves of the same or of two different forms upon the same branches, distichous or in spiral order; fructifications in small cylindrical spikes.

A few of these plants are species of true Lycopodium. They are extremely rare in our coal measures. Other fragments which I have formerly referred to this genus are considered by Schimper as hairy or scaly rhizomas of Ferns.
LYCOPODITES PENDULUS, Sp. nov., Plate LXII, Figs. 2, 2a.

Stem small, flexuous, repetito-dichotomous; leaves linear-lanceolate, acuminate, inflated or convex on the back; nerve obsolete.

This plant is essentially different from a Lepidodendron, by the multiplied ramifications of branches, all of the same size, but of various length, flexuous, some of those of the third order appearing as if derived from the secondary divisions by innovations rather than by true dichotomy. In all the species of Lepidodendron which I have seen with narrow stem and slender branches, the divisions decrease always by the forking. In this species the branches are mostly of equal size. The leaves are loosely imbricated in spiral order, three to four millimeters long, lanceolate, acuminate, concave on the inside, without trace of nerve, but an indistinct medial inflation of the back.

Habitat—Shale of the Morris coal, Ill. Museum Comp. Zool., Cambridge, Ly. 11.
LYCOPODITES MEEKII, Lesqx., Plate LXII, Figs. 1, la.

Lesqx., Geol. Rept. of Ill., IV, p. 426, Pl. XXVI, f. 6.
Schp. Paleont., veget., III, p. 533.

Stems and branches very slender, dichotomous; leaves needle-shaped, very small, closely imbricated; medial nerve obsolete.

This species differs from the former by the very narrow and much smaller needle-shaped leaves, more closely imbricated. As in the former species the medial nerve is totally obsolete. The leaves are scarcely two millimeters long, and half a millimeter broad at the base which appears half embracing. I have seen only the fragment figured.

Habitat—Roof shale of the coal of Morris, Ill. Specimen in the State Cabinet of Illinois.

Geol. Rept. of Ky., IV, p. 437.

Selaginites crassus, Lesqx., Geol. Rept. of Ill., II, p. 446, Pl. XXXIX, f. 8.

Stem apparently trailing, thick, irregularly dichotomous; branches short; leaves densely imbricate, concave, oblong or ovate, more or less distinctly acuminate, sometinies obtuse; nerve obsolete.

The species is comparable to Lepidodendron Selaginoiaes, as figured by Ll. & Hutt., Foss. fl., I, Pl. 12, and still more distinctly to Lepidodendron (Selaginites) Erdmanni, Germ., Verst., p. 60, Pl. XXVI. Schimper refers this last species as figured by Gein., Verst., Pl. I, f. 5 and 6, to a rhizoma, under the name of Rhizomopteris Lycopodioides, Paleont. Veget., I, p. 699, remarking, however, that Geinitz's plant is far different from that of Germar. The leaves of the American plant are broader and shorter than represented in any of the above species, of a hard coriaceous texture, concave, as seen from the impressions upon the stone, four to five millimeters long, ovate, obtuse in the specimen of Illinois; sharply acuminate, even needle-pointed in that of Kentucky, which has them also less closely imbricate, and thus resembling those of Lycopodites elongatus, Gold. Fl. Saraep. foss., p. 11, Pl. I, f. 2. In both the nerve is totally obsolete. The characters are rather those of a Lycopodites than of a Lepidodendron. Probably the specimens represent two species. They are too small; it is not possible to see if the differences are permanent.

Habitat—Kentucky, shale of coal 1 B, near Racoon furnace, Ky.; Mazon Creek, Ill., in nodules.

Selaginites uncinnatus, Lesqx., Geol. Rept. of Ill., II, p. 446, Pl. XLI, f. 3.

Rhizomopteris filiformis, Schp., Paleont., veget., I, p. 700.

Stem slender, dichotomous; upper branches pinnately divided nearly in right angle; branchlets more or less uncinnate; leaves needle form, acuminate, very narrow, in right angle to the stems.

Though it cannot be positively asserted that the fragment is referable to a Lycopodium, the upper branches opening in spiral and covered with leaves, prevent its reference to a rhizoma. The basilar or stem leaves are in right angle, seemingly variable in size, an appearance which may result from their position upon the branches; for some of them seem first emerging in acute angle, opening horizontally from above the base. In the upper branchlets the leaves are oblique and imbricate. I have compared this species to Selaginites Erdmanni, (Germ.) as figured by Geinitz , l.c. But it is also comparable to Germar's figure of the same by the different position and size of the leaves, which are shorter, turned upwards and imbricate on the terminal branchlets.

Habitat—Colchester, Ill. Specimen in the State Cabinet.

Stem flattened, grooved in the middle; border leaves two ranked, lanceolate, acuminate, decurrent by the lower side, rounded on the upper, with intermediate rudimentary leaflets or scales; nerve obsolete.

This is a true Lycopodium represented by a single fragment of stem, two to three millimeters broad, four and a half centimeters long, forking in two branches of equal size and as long as the stem. Border leaves alternate, two ranked, half open, flat, six millimeters long, gradually taper pointed or lanceolate from the base, decurring and joined to the border of the stem on the lower side, rounded to the middle of the Stem at the upper border, with very small intermediate coriaceous leaflets or scales, scarcely one millimeter long, triangular acute, placed in the middle of the flattened stem. The disposition of the leaves is in spiral order, similar to that of Lycopodium complanatum, L., with the difference that in this last species the intermediate leaves are as long as the lateral ones, and not mere scales, as in the fossil plant, whose leaves are also more open. The species is closely allied to Lycopodium macrophyllus, Gold., Fl. Sarraep. foss., I, p. 12, Pl. 1, f. 5b.

As it is generally the case in leaves of fossil plants of this genus, the medial nerve is obsolete.

Habitat—Shale above coal (No. VI), Shawnee, Perry County, Ohio. Cabinet of Prof. Ed. Orton.

Stem straight, cylindrical; leaves closely imbricated in spiral order and linear-lanceolate, acute; top branches slender, inclined downwards, bearing spikes, organs of fructifications.

The stem is eight millimeters broad, flattened, of equal size in its whole length, eighteen to twenty centimeters long, with closely appressed imbricate leaves, about eight millimeters long, inflated on the back, and coriaceous. It bears at its top three spikes, at the end of slender nearly pending or curved down pedicels, four millimeters broad, three centimeters long, evidently organs of fructifications. They are covered with much shorter half open leaves or scales, with pulverulent glomercules in the axils, as far at least as it can be seen.

Habitat— I have found the specimen in the roof shale of a coal bed near New Harmony, Ind., (upper coal), with fragments of other plants, shells, and scales of fish. Though the specimen evidently represents a Lycopodium, the spikes somewhat crushed are too obscure for satisfactory description. It is Ly. 4, of the Museum of Comp. Zool. Cambridge, Mass.

Geol. Rept. of Ill., IV; p. 426, Pl. XXI, f. 5.

Stem round, dichotomous; leaves irregularly disposed, some single on each side, alternate, others apparently joined by two at their base, open, lanceolate, slightly narrowed at the decurrent base, obtusely pointed, comparatively large and distinctly nerved.

This fragment has no relation, known to me, to any plant of the coal. The leaves are nearly three centimeters long and three millimeters broad in the middle, resembling leaves of Annularia, but somewhat narrower toward the base, more obtuse at the apex and decurring by the lower margin to the round stem, which bears only one short branch by an axillary division like that of a dicotyledonous plant. The leaves are distinctly nerved and very irregular in their disposition, which, though, is not plainly recognizable, as the specimen is crushed and the leaves mostly destroyed on one side. Except some short lines marked lengthwise on its surface, the stem has no trace of scars and nothing upon it to point out a spiral arrangement of the leaves. Therefore, though the mode of branching may be comparable to that of some Lycopodiaceae of our time, the Ruelliae, the relation of this branch to Lycopodites is scarcely acceptable. The leaves resemble those of Walchia flaccida, as represented in Goepp. Perm., fl., Pl. L, f. 2. Ullmannia biarmica, Eichw., seems, from the figure of the species in Goepp., l.c., Pl. LII, f. 2, to have a branch disposed as that of this species; hence we may have here a fragment of a Conifer. It would be the first of that class seen in our lower coal measures.

Supposing that my first examination of this remarkable plant might have been inaccurate in some points, the specimen was again kindly sent me for a revision of its characters. But I could find nothing new. The figure is perfectly exact in every part, the leaves only being a little less narrowed near the base than they appear upon the fossil fragment.

Habitat—Nodules of Mazon Creek; specimen in the cabinet of Prof. A. H. Worthen, Warsaw, Ill.

Devon. Plants of N.E. Am., Quat. Journ. Geol. Soc., May, 1863, p. 461, Pl. XVII, f. 1, 2.

Stems slender, tortuous, dichotomous; barren branches with short erect or recurved leaves, apparently in two ranks; fertile branches lateral, one sided, in the form of sessile strobiles.

I have found what I believe to be the same plant in the red shale just above the Chemung, near Trevorton, Penn'a. The specimen is obscure, and seems to represent a Fern, the lateral branches being marked with a large medial nerve like a rachis, bordered with a lobed lamina, like pinnae of Pecopteris. The same appearance is seen f. 1, l.c.

Habitat—Perry, Maine; an obscure species.

Dev. Plants, l.c., p. 462, Pl. XVII, f. 14.

Stem short, not observed to branch, densely covered with filiform leaves.

A mere bud, one and a half centimeters long, with an obscure axis bearing apparently half open filiform and flexuous leaves. The whole is indistinct. It is comparable to a small fragment of the top of a branch of Lycopodites (Rhizomopteris) selaginoides, as figured in Gein., Verst., Pl. I, f. 2.

Habitat—Same locality as the former.

Dev. Pl., l.c., 1862, p. 314, Pl. XVII, f. 57.
Hall's Rept. on the Geol. of New York, p. 273, f. 125.
Vanuxem, ibid., p. 175, f. 46.

Stem slender; leaves pinnate, contiguous, linear, one to one and a half centimeters in length.

The plants, says the author, are graceful feathered stems, apparently growing in groups.

This species seems very closely allied to Lycopodites pennaeformis, Goepp. Uebergsg. Fl., p. 508, Pl. XLII, f. 2. Still, says the author it is very doubtful if it was a Lycopodiaceous plant. Schimper, mentioning the species, supposes that it may represent a leaflet of Fern deprived of the epidermis. It may be an Encrinite ?

Habitat — Chemung group of New York, near Ithaca, Jas. Hall. Waverly sandstone of Perry county, Ohio, Prof. E. B. Andrews.