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a genus of plants of the division Lycopodiophyta. The plants vary widely in appearance—ranging from soft, mosslike forms to creeping, twining, and caespitose forms. They range in size from 5–10 cm to 2–3 m (in the tropics). The stems of some twining tropical species reach 20 m in length. The leaves (more accurately, phylloids) may be identical or vary in size. Species growing in arid places have erect stems; those growing in moist places (the majority of species) have procumbent and dorsoventral stems. Branching is dichotomous, often becoming dichopodial. Procumbent and semiprocumbent stems are equipped with special root supports, or rhizophores. The roots are adventitious.
Propagation is by means of microspores and megaspores that develop in microsporangia and megasporangia and that arise on sporophylls gathered into strobiles at the ends of branches. The gametophytes that develop from the spores, especially the male ones, are greatly reduced. Selaginellas may also be propagated vegetatively.
There are more than 700 species of Selaginella, growing predominantly in the tropics. The USSR has eight species. About 25 species are grown as house plants and in conservatories.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV