The rare marsh clubmoss Lycopodiella inundata has been found at Eelmoor Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hampshire, nearly 60 years after it was last seen in this location. The species is confined to open peaty ground in wet heaths, mires and other places that are inundated with water for the winter. However, due to decline of these environments, it is now a threatened species occupying less than a quarter of its original range in the UK, making its reappearance at Eelmoor Marsh particularly significant.
It is likely that the marsh clubmoss has been revived at Eelmoor Marsh because of a combination of mechanical habitat restoration and disturbance by grazing animals, creating open conditions across wet ground. It represents a further success of the habitat restoration programme carried out by Marwell Wildlife and landowner QinetiQ, and an apt discovery to mark the 20th anniversary of this partnership.
Clubmosses can be traced back at least 300 million years to the Carboniferous period, and despite the name they are actually simple plants that are closely related to ferns. As a group, clubmosses have been used throughout human history for medicinal, dyeing and decorative purposes. Because their spores repel water they have been used as a powder to treat skin rashes and wounds. The high oil content means that the spores are highly flammable and as they ignite with a bright flash, they were once used in fireworks and for early flash photography.