Lycopodium clavatum, Linne'. The spores.
Habitat. Europe, Asia, N. America, in dry woods
Syn. Lycopod., Club Moss, Clubfoot Moss, Running Moss, Snake (Staghorn) Moss, Ground (Running) Pine, Wolf's Claw, Fox Tail; Vegetable Sulphur (Brimstone), Semen Lycopodii; Fr. Lycopode, Soufre vegetal, Pied de Loup; Ger. Barlappsporen, Hexenmehl, Streupulver, Blitzpulvre
Ly-co-po'di-um. L. See etymology, above, of Lycopodiaceae.
Cla-va'tum. L. clavatus, club-like -- i.e., alluding to club-like appearance of the fertile spikes.
Low creeping perennial; stem .6-3 M. (2-10 degrees) long, slender, tough, flexible, woody; branches ascending, leafy, the fertile terminated by a slender peduncle 10-15 Cm. (4-6') long, with 1-2 linear, cylindrical spikes -- thecae, cones, capsules, 2.5-5 Cm. (1-2') long; leaves linear, awl-shaped, 6 Mm. (1/4') long, dense, light green, tipped, as are also the numerous bracts, on the flowering spikes with a fine bristle; in axils of bracts have the kidney-shaped sporangia containing the spores. SPORES, a light yellow, very mobile powder, odorless tasteless; spores shaped like 3-sided pyramid with convex base, .025-.04 Mm. (1/1000-1/625') broad; outer surface reticulate -- reticulations polygonal and formed by straight-sided delicate ridges, which form a delicate fringe at edges of spore; viewed with the rounded surface of spore on the under side, a distinct triangular marking is seen, formed by edges of flat surfaces of the spore. Tests: 1. Not wetted by water -- floats upon it; when boiled with water -- sinks, when thrown into a flame -- burns with a quick flash. 2. Shows very few, if any, pollen grains, .04-.07 Mm. 1/625-1/360') broad, and consisting of a central convex, generative cell separating two spherical cells or wings containing air (abs. of pine pollen). 3. Boiled with water and cooled, + iodine T.S. -- no bluish color (abs. of starch), or reddish color (abs. of dextrin).
Pine pollen (coarser, less mobile, mixes more easily with water), starch, flour (sometimes 25 p.c., sinks in carbon disulphide), dextrin (soluble in water, when concentrated--precipitated by alcohol), sulphur (dissolves in carbon disulphide, remaining upon evaporation), rosin (treat with alcohol, evaporate), turmeric (reddish-brown with alkalies), talc, gypsum, ferruginous earth, sand (increasing ash beyond 3-5 p.c., and quickly subsiding when shaken with carbon disulphide, chloroform, or water).
Collected, July-August, in Scandinavia, Baltic lands, Northeastern Poland, Russia, etc., chiefly from L. clavatum, rarely L. complana'tum (spikes (cones) or sporangia, and spores of each very similar), by villagers in wooded areas, who sell their product to local agents, who, after drying it 1-2 weeks, avoiding artificial heat, shake the spores out through ordinary flour sieves, when it contains 5-10 p.c. of impurities (leaves, scaly fragments, sand, wheat and rye flour, etc.) Spikes when ripe yield pure spores 23 p.c., when green 10-15 p.c.
Fixed oil 47-49 p.c., cane-sugar (sucrose) 2 p.c., volatile base (methylamine), ash 3-5 p.c. (sand + 1 p.c. P2O5). The substance of the cell-wall is called pollenin; when treated with potassium hydroxide gives yellow color, becoming blue upon the addition of sulphuric acid and iodine. The oil, similar to expressed oil of almonds, contains palmitic, stearic, myristic, and oleic acids -- the latter 80 p.c.being slightly abnormal.
Once considered diuretic, antispasmodic for rheumatism, epilepsy, pulmonary and renal disorders, dysentery.
Externally to protect tender and raw surfaces, erysipelas, eczema, herpes, ulcers, chafing in infants; in pharmacy as a basis for insufflations, also to prevent adhering of pills, suppositories, etc. Popular "homeopathic medicine" (1 to 100 lactose triturated till oil liberated); internally gives excited circulation, urinary irritation, often cures dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation, aneurism, diphtheria, mucous membrane affections of lungs and bronchi.