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Lycopodium clavatum - L.

Common Name Common Club Moss, Running clubmoss
Family Lycopodiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The plant contains lycopodine, which is poisonous by paralysing the motor nerves[21, 218]. It also contains clavatine which is toxic to many mammals[218]. The spores, however, are not toxic[21]. may stimulate the central nervous system. Take under medical supervision [301].
Habitats Moorland, fields and pastures[7], it is rare in lowland areas[17].
Range Arctic and temperate zones of N. America, Europe and Asia; C. America; S. America; Caribbean; scattered through tropical Africa and tropical Asia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Lycopodium clavatum Common Club Moss, Running clubmoss

Lycopodium clavatum Common Club Moss, Running clubmoss


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of fern
Lycopodium clavatum is an evergreen Fern growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is in leaf all year.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Lycopodium eriostachys. Lycopodium mayoris. Lycopodium piliferum. Lycopodium trichophyllum.


Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Analgesic  Antipruritic  Antirheumatic  Carminative  Decongestant  Diuretic  Dysentery  Haemostatic  
Homeopathy  Malaria  Miscellany  Skin  Tonic  Urinary

With its wide native range, the plant has found a wide range of medicinal uses around the world. There has been considerable research into the active constituents of the plant. The aerial parts contain dihydrocaffeic acid, which has a blood pressure-lowering effect, as well as alkaloids such as lycopodine, chinoline, clavatine, clavatoxine and annotinine, which all cause an increase in blood pressure[299 ]. Lycopodine also stimulates the peristaltic movements of the intestine and contraction of the uterus[299 ]. The aerial parts also contain derivatives of cinnamonic acid and flavonoids[299 ]. A methanol extract of the plant showed strong prolyl-endopeptidase-inhibiting activity and is expected to have activity against loss of memory[299 ]. The spores contain about 50% greenish-yellow acidic oil, 3% sugar, 1 - 4% ash and a trace of a volatile alkaloid[299 ]. A decoction of the plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, stomachic and tonic[4 , 9 , 13 , 21 , 46 , 154 , 172 , 176 , 218 , 238 ]. It is used internally in the treatment of urinary and kidney disorders, rheumatic arthritis, catarrhal cystitis, gastritis, dysentery, malaria etc[176 , 238 , 299 ]. The whole plant is chewed to induce vomiting after food poisoning or acute stomach pain[299 ]. The sun-dried, pulverized leaves are mixed with plantain and milk, and the mixture is given in small doses to children to cure diarrhoea and dysentery[299 ]. It is applied externally to skin diseases, wounds, ulcers and irritations[238 , 299 ]. The whole plant is grilled with sugarcane and banana skins and applied to cracked lips to promote healing[299 ]. The plant can be harvested all year round and is used fresh or dried[238 ]. The spores of this plant are antipruritic, decongestant, diuretic, stomachic and styptic[4 ]. They are applied externally as a dusting powder to various skin diseases, to wounds or inhaled to stop bleeding noses[4 , 7 ]. They can also be used to absorb fluids from injured tissues[213 , 218 ]. The spores are harvested when ripe in late summer[9 ]. The spores can also be used as a dusting powder to prevent pills from sticking together[4 , 213 ]. A homoeopathic remedy is made from the spores[232 ]. It has a wide range of applications including dry coughs, mumps and rheumatic pains[232 , 238 ]. The plant is one of the ingredients of a remedy to alleviate jet lag[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Miscellany  Mordant  Weaving

The spores are water repellent and can be used as a dusting powder to stop things sticking together[106, 171]. They are also used as a talcum powder and for dressing moulds in iron foundries[74]. They can also be used as explosives in fireworks and for artificial lightning[7, 46, 57, 102, 171, 213]. The plant can be used as a mordant in dyeing[172]. The stems are made into matting[46].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant with a very wide range, found at sea level in the Arctic circle to highland areas above 1,300 metres in the tropics. It is hardy to at least -15°c[238 ]. Thrives in a rough spongy peat in a shady position[1 ]. Requires a humid atmosphere[200 ]. Lycopodium clavatum is very variable, and there is a nearly continuous series of forms from compact plants with parallel branches and firm, imbricate leaves to amply branched plants with diverging branches and soft, spreading leaves. The former is typical for cold and exposed habitats, the latter for warm and sheltered locations[299 ]. Terrestrial members of this genus are hard to establish. The roots are delicate and liable to rot, most water is absorbed through the foliage[200 ]. The subterranean prothallus develops slowly and reaches sexual maturity after 6 - 15 years and may live for 20 years[299 ]. It is top-shaped, differentiated into various tissues and lives in close symbiosis with a fungus, possibly a species of Pythium. Without the fungus, the development of the gametophyte stops at an early, few-celled stage. Once the sporophyte has established, it can spread rapidly by the long creeping stems[299 ]. If competition with higher growing plants is not strong, it is long-lived and slowly forms large colonies[299 ]. The spores are used as a reference in pollen traps used to monitor pollen in the air to establish hay-fever risks[299 ]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233 ]. Although looking more like a moss, this genus is closely related to the ferns[200 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Spores - best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. The spores are generally produced in abundance but are difficult to grow successfully[200]. Layering of growing tips[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common Club Moss

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lycopodium annotinumStiff Club MossFern0.5 -  LMSNM002
Lycopodium campanulatum Fern0.0 3-7  LMFSM011
Lycopodium complanatumGround Pine, GroundcedarFern0.1 3-7  LMFSM032
Lycopodium lucidulumShining Club MossFern0.2 4-8  LMFSM101
Lycopodium obscurumGround Pine, Rare clubmossFern0.5 3-7  LMFSM022
Lycopodium selagoFir ClubmossFern0.3 -  LMFSM121
Lycopodium serratumClub MossFern0.1 -  LMFSM022

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

bidya dhar das   Sat Apr 12 2008

iam doing phytochemical screening of lycopodium cernuua,so regarding the topic plese send some information,i will be very great ful to you and all the team member.

   Tue Apr 22 2008

I don't think Lycopodium is considered a fern. It is a fern ally.

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