Lycophytes are similar to ferns in having vascular tissues, reproducing by spores, and lacking seeds. They are distinguished from ferns by their generally small leaves ("microphylls" rather than "megaphylls"). Ferns are more closely related to seed plants than to the lycophytes.
Living lycophytes are generally small plants. In ancient times they grew as large trees, but they have been largely superseded ecologically by seed plants.
There are 13 species of lycophytes native to New Zealand, in the genera Lycopodium, Lycopodiella, Huperzia, Phylloglossum, and the aquatic Isoetes (Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth 2000). Additionally three exotic Selaginella species have naturalised, including S. kraussiana which has become a significant weed.
Brownsey PJ, Smith-Dodsworth JD (2000) New Zealand ferns and allied plants. David Bateman, Auckland.