Selaginella martensii, S. moellendorffii, S. uncinata

Selaginella spp.

Family: Selaginellaceae

Origin: Various

Close up of selaginella spp.
A small and low growing plant that looks a lot like a fern but is not. Covers forest floors and can be spread by spores catching on hiking boots and being walked across tracks and paths.
Photo credit: Tubifex

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Creeping, rhizomatous, perennial fern allies. Stems are irregular, branched and bear glossy, green, scale-like leaves/microphylls.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment, from 1 September 2021, you:

  • will not be allowed to breed, distribute, release or sell Selaginella spp. within the Auckland region.
  • will not be allowed to plant Selaginella spp. within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • must destroy any Selaginella spp. on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Forest, riparian areas, nurseries, hothouses, gardens.


Produces spores. Vegetative spread from fragments. Spores and fragments dispersed by footwear, animals, dumping of garden waste and movement of soil and water.

Impact on environment

Forms dense mats, potentially excluding native ground cover plants and preventing native seedling establishment.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Pull out or cover with black plastic or weedmat for 3 to 6 months.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications:

For small infestations: Foliar spray with 10ml glyphosate green per 1L of water.

Basic Growsafe certified:

For medium to large infestations: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green and 2g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Selaginella moellendorffii
Can be problematic in native forests and it thrives in low light conditions. Because it forms mats across the forest floor it can make it hard for native seeds to germinate.
Selaginella unciniata.
Fragments of stems can regrow if removed from site. Best control method is to apply herbicide carefully to kill the plant without harming native plants.