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Clubmoss

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  • Botanical: Lycopodium clavatum
  • Family: Lycopodiaceae
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Clubmoss

Botanical

Lycopodium clavatum

Family

Lycopodiaceae

Known as

Keulen-Bärlapp, Wolfsklaue, Drudenfuss, Denkraut, Gichtmoss, Hexenkraut, Teufelsklauen, Weingrün, Wolfsranke

Old Use

The spores of this moss, "lycopodium powder", are explosive if present in the air in high enough densities. They were used as flash powder in early photography an magic acts.

Collection Times

Spores: August to September Herb: May to September

Heart & Circulation

varicose veins

Muscle & Joints

gout, rheumatism

Stomach & Intestinal

bladder stones, cystitis, liver weakness

Skin & Hair

skin rashes

Properties

analgesic, antirheumatic, diuretic

Description

It is a spore-bearing vascular plant, growing mainly prostrate along the ground with stems up to 1 m long; the stems are much branched, and densely clothed with small, spirally arranged leaves. The leaves are 3–5 mm long and 0.7–1 mm broad, tapered to a fine hair-like white point. The branches bearing spore cones turn erect, reaching 5–15 cm above ground, and have fewer leaves than the horizontal branches. The spore cones are yellow-green, 2–3 cm long, and 5 mm broad. The horizontal stems produce roots at frequent intervals along their length, allowing the stem to grow indefinitely along the ground. The stems superficially resemble small seedlings of coniferous trees, though it is not related to these.

Properties & Uses

A decoction of the plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, stomachic and tonic. It is used internally in the treatment of urinary and kidney disorders, rheumatic arthritis, catarrhal cystitis, gastritis etc. It is applied externally to skin diseases and irritations. The plant can be harvested all year round and is used fresh or dried. The spores of this plant are antipruritic, decongestant, diuretic and stomachic. They are applied externally as a dusting powder to various skin diseases, to wounds or inhaled to stop bleeding noses. They can also be used to absorb fluids from injured tissues. The spores are harvested when ripe in late summer. The spores can also be used as a dusting powder to prevent pills sticking together. A homeopathic remedy is made from the spores. It has a wide range of applications including dry coughs, mumps and rheumatic pains. 

Other Uses
Cosmetic; Miscellany; Mordant; Weaving.

The spores are water repellent and can be used as a dusting powder to stop things sticking together. They are also used as a talcum powder and for dressing moulds in iron foundries. They can also be used as explosives in fireworks and for artificial lightning. The plant can be used as a mordant in dyeing. The stems are made into matting.

Traditional Use

Traditionally Clubmoss was used in treatments of kidney stones, urinary tract infections and digestive aliments. Today, the plant is considered to be an antispasmodic, diuretic and sedative. Also, it reduces gastric inflammations, eases digestion and helps in treatments of chronic kidney disorders. Its spores, dusted into powder and applied on the skin could ease skin irritation and itching. Clubmoss is used in homeopathy for treatments of aneurisms, constipation, chronic lung and bronchial disorders, fevers. 

Cautions

Clubmoss can be toxic if taken in high doses. Always use the plant under the supervision of a professional.

The plant contains lycopodine, which is poisonous by paralysing the motor nerves. It also contains clavatine which is toxic to many mammal. The spores, however, are not toxic; may stimulate the central nervous system. 

Distribution

It has a subcosmopolitan distribution, with distinct subspecies and varieties in different parts of its range:
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum var. clavatum (Europe, Asia, North America)
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum var. aristatum (Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, northern South America south to northern Argentina)
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum var. asiaticum (Japan, northeast China)
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum var. borbonicum (central and southern Africa)
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. clavatum var. kiboanum (mountains of tropical Africa)
Lycopodium clavatum subsp. contiguum (southern Central America, northern South America; syn. Lycopodium contiguum)

Although globally widespread, like many clubmosses, it is confined to undisturbed sites, disappearing from farmed areas and sites with regular burning. As a result, it is endangered in many areas. In the UK it is one of 101 species named as a high priority for conservation by the wild plant charity Plantlife

Constituents

Lycopodine, Clavatin, Clavotoxin, fatty oil, glycerin, organic acids, palmitic, stearic, arachidic, hydro caffeic acid, citric acid, malic acid

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.