I was so excited to find this a couple months ago in the common areas of my subdivision. I have seen this plant off and on for years never knowing its name but loving the way it hugs the woodland floor usually peeking through the brown crunchy leaves of Oaks. The beautiful green coniferous plant is actually not related to cedars despite its name and leaves that resemble cedar branches. Running Cedar is closely related to woodland ferns and Clubmoss and spread through deciduous and coniferous wooded areas by rhizomes or runners and forming colonies which spread slowly under the fallen leaves of the woods.
This beautiful groundcover is threatened in many areas because of its coveted use as Christmas greenery. I can see why it was used to make wreaths so many years ago and still sought out in areas today. This is a slow growing evergreen that can take years to recover from being dug up. The colonies I found in my wooded areas were near each other and very small with maybe stems of 3- 5″ above the ground. The Running Cedar was in areas that were undisturbed by residents which makes me wonder how many more colonies there are hiding under all the yard waste and invasive plants growing in our common areas.
It is a shame that this native beauty is almost gone from many woodland areas. If you enjoy walking in the woods, then I would be on the look out. I would love to hear back from you if you have it in your area. Please do not dig it up unless it is a large colony and you are going to move it and transplant it with great care and love. This native evergreen may not be a food source for wildlife; however, it is home to spiders, salamanders, mice, and frogs. Despite being a groundcover, Running Cedar is not invasive because it grows too slow (unlike some invasive plants such as ivy, vinca, and pachysandria).
I first spotted the Running Cedar in October. I read that this plant is supposed to send up spores (just like ferns) to reproduce in the fall but I did not see any spores or cone-shaped spikes above the flat fan-like evergreen leaves. I am going on another long walk today to an area that I believe to be ‘undisturbed’ to see if I spot any colonies there. This is a gorgeous groundcover which I am tempted to see if it can be propagated so that I can help nature out by filling in other areas of the common areas. If I do, I will only take a small piece to see how and if it can be transplanted.
Working with nature can be rewarding and it also takes patience. Looking for natives in my area has been an obsession for a while. It drives my family nuts because I cannot leave without a camera and carry on a conversation while walking without my eyes roaming the woodland floor.
Thank you for stopping by and be sure to check back to see what else I spy on my walks in the woods!
Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!
2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @the Garden Frog Boutique
Running Cedar (Diphasiastrum digitatum)
Height: I found it around 3-5″ tall
Family: Lycopodiaceae – Club-moss family