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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Selaginella kraussiana

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas OCTOBER. 03, 2020

[59-365] 3rd. October 2020- I was going to start this post with the words, here is my second post featuring ferns. But I now discover it isn't really a fern at all.

Selaginella kraussiana is a species of vascular plant in the Selaginellaceae family. It is referred to by the common names Krauss' spikemoss, Krauss's clubmoss, or African clubmoss, and is found naturally in the Azores and parts of mainland Africa. It belongs to the very ancient lineage of plants known as the clubmosses.

Vascular plants, also known as tracheophytes, form a large group of plants that are defined as land plants that have lignified tissues (the xylem) for conducting water and minerals throughout the plant. They also have a specialized non-lignified tissue (the phloem) to conduct products of photosynthesis. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, horsetails, ferns, gymnosperms (including conifers) and angiosperms (flowering plants). They are one of the oldest lineages of extant (living) vascular plants; the group contains extinct plants that have been dated from the Silurian (ca. 425 million years ago).

Growing to just 5 cm (2.0 in) high, it is a low-growing, mat-forming evergreen perennial with primitive fern-like leaves, that spreads via rooting stems. Since its introduction to Britain in 1878 it has spread slowly, and was first recorded in the wild in 1917 in west Cornwall (UK) and County Leitrim (Ireland).

In any case I think it is a beautiful thing and as it is in my fernery as far as I am concerned it is a fern or the little cousin anyway.

Who was Christian Ferdinand Friedrich Krauss? Christian Ferdinand Friedrich Krauss (Stuttgart, 9 July 1812 – 15 September 1890), was a German scientist, traveller and collector.

He was an apothecary's apprentice and worked as a pharmacist for a while, but then took up the study of mineralogy, zoology and chemistry at Tübingen and Heidelberg, where he excelled academically and was awarded a PhD summa cum laude in 1836.

Cape Province 7 May 1838 - 2 June 1839

Baron von Ludwig, famous for his garden in Cape Town, visited Germany and persuaded Krauss to visit South Africa. They sailed from Portsmouth aboard the 676-ton barque La Belle Alliance (the same vessel that had carried 1820 Settlers from England to the Eastern Cape) and arrived in Cape Town 81 days later on 7 May 1838. Krauss started collecting and studying the fauna, flora and geology of Cape Town and environs in earnest after a short trip to Tulbagh.

Planning a trip to the interior, he ordered a wagon to be made. He set off with his ox-wagon, 14 oxen, a horse and two assistants. After spending some weeks in this area he travelled to Natal.

Natal 2 June 1839 - 5 February 1840

Krauss enjoyed the company of 2 other naturalists for the eight-day voyage to Port Natal - the Swede Wahlberg and the Frenchman Adulphe Delegorgue. The first significant zoological exploration of Natal, with its adjacent territories of Kaffraria to the south and Zululand to the north, can be dated from 1839 with their arrival. Krauss stayed in a reed hut at Congella, going on daily excursions into the bush or along the seashore. He was delighted with the variety of species that he encountered. Back at the Umlaas camp on 19 January, he resumed his collecting and made preparations for his departure. He sailed from Port Natal on 5 February and was back in Cape Town two weeks later.

Cape Town 19 February 1840 - 22 April 1840

In Cape Town Baron von Ludwig once again extended his hospitality. Krauss made some short daytrips into the mountains between Table Mountain and Muizenberg, and considered a journey to Namaqualand, but the offer of employment in Stuttgart could not be postponed. With his collections taking up 16 crates, he left Cape Town on 22 April 1840 aboard the "Vernon", a new type of ship sporting an auxiliary engine. Getting back to England, he sold 500 of his plant specimens to the British Museum.

His plants were studied and described by various specialists, and enumerated in "Pflanzen des Cap- und Natal-Landes" in the journal Flora (in 15 parts, 1844-1846). In the latter year all the enumerations were reprinted under the title Beitraege zur Flora des Cap- und Natallandes - the first substantial work dealing with the flora of Natal. The collection contained some 2300 species (mostly flowering plants but including 56 lichens), of which 340 species (and 34 genera) were described as new. The genus Kraussia was named after him by W.H. Harvey*, as were many plant species by others.

(Information from Wikipedia and S2A3 Biographical Database of South Africa)

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