Lycopodium. U. S.
"The spores of Lycopodium clavatum Linné (Fam. Lycopodiaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 2 per cent. of impurities." U. S.
Club Moss, Stag's horn. Semen Lycopodii, Pulvis Lycopodii, Sulphur Vegetabile; Vegetable Sulphur; Lycopode, Fr. Cod.; Souire vegetal, Fr.; Lycopodium, P. G.; Bärlappsamen, Streupulver, Hexenmehl, Blitzpulver, G.; Licopodio, It., Sp.
Lycopodium clavatum, commonly called club moss, has a trailing, branching stem, several feet long, and thickly beset with linear-awl-shaped, flat, ribless, smooth leaves, tipped with a fine bristle, curved upward, and of a light green color. The fructification is hi terminal spikes, single or in pairs, with crowded ovate, entire, pointed scales, bearing in the axil a transversely oval sporangia which splits nearly to the base and contains the narrow reticulate spores. The plant is a native of Europe, Asia, and America, being especially common in the dry woods northward.
The spores are collected in Switzerland and Germany. Lycopodium is "a light yellow, very mobile powder, nearly inodorous and tasteless. It is not wetted by water but floats upon it; when boiled with water it sinks; when thrown into a flame it burns with a quick flash. Under the microscope, the spores of Lycopodium are spherical tetrahedrons, from 0.025 to 0.04 mm. in diameter; in section they vary from plano-convex to triangular, the outer wall or exosporium being extended in the form of slight irregular projections, giving the surface of the spore a reticulate appearance, the reticulations being polygonal and formed of straight sides; when viewed so that the rounded surface of the spores is on the under side, the upper surface is characterized by a distinct, triangular marking, being the edges of the three straight surfaces, extending from the center of the Spores to near the outer edge. Lycopodium shows very few, if any, pollen grains of species of Pine, the latter being from 0.04 to 0.07 mm. in diameter, and consisting of three parts, in which a central, convex, generative cell separates the two spherical cells or wings which are blackish, due to the inclusion of air. Lycopodium yields not more than 3 per cent. of ash." U. S.
Fluckiger by thoroughly comminuting the spores of lycopodium with sand, obtained 47 per cent. of a bland oil of bright yellow color and sp. gr. 0.925, which does not congeal even at -15° C. (5° F.). A. Barkowski obtained from the spores of Lycopodium 48.5 per cent. of a neutral non-drying oil, very similar to almond oil. This oil contains 2 per cent. of a fatty acid called lycopodic acid (C18H36O4), 80 per cent. of oleic acid, a minute quantity of a vegetable cholesterin similar to that obtained by Hesse from Calabar beans, 8.2 per cent. of glycerin and 3 per cent. of arachidic, palmitic and stearic acids. The lycopodic acid crystallizes in silky needles, it is doubly refracting like quartz, and appears to be isomeric with dioxystearic acid. (D. C., 1891, 155; see also A. Pharm., 1908, 246.) Stenhouse found volatile bases to be present in very small amount. The ash amounts to 4 per cent. It contains alumina and 1 per cent. of phosphoric acid, and is not alkaline. (Pharmacographia, 2d ed., 732.) Lycopodium is sometimes admixed with pine pollen which is probably to be looked upon as an accidental contamination. In the same way, it may contain small quantities of talcum and starch. It is sometimes adulterated with a resinous compound made from rosin, ferruginous earths, shellac, sulphur, turmeric, talcum, dextrin or the cereal starches.
In Nashville, Tenn., a specimen came into the possession of Benj. Lillard which was found to contain one-half of its bulk of dextrin. (Ch. Ph., Sept., 1873.) Folleto recommends two reactions to detect pollen: one by adding to a syrupy solution of zinc chloride, potassium iodide and iodine to saturation; the pollen is colored yellow by this reagent, lycopodium is not colored; the other reagent is methyl-green, which colors pollen green, but does not color lycopodium. (Ph. Centralh., 1896, 527.)
Uses.—Lycopodium is used as an absorbent application to excoriated surfaces, especially those which occur in the folds of the skin in infants. In pharmacy it answers the purpose of facilitating the rolling of the pilular mass, and of preventing the adhesion of the pills when formed. The moss itself has been esteemed diuretic and antispasmodic; its decoction has been employed in rheumatism, diseases of the lungs and kidneys, and in the removal of plica Polonica, but it has fallen into complete desuetude. One of the ingenious uses for lycopodium in microscopy is to mix a little of it with an unknown powder or on a slide on which a mount is made. The spores are easily recognizable and distinguishable from other elements and give an excellent idea of the approximate size of the elements which are being observed, as the spores are almost uniformly 40 microns in size.
Lycopodium Saururus Lain. Piligan.—In this Brazilian lycopod Adrian has found an actively poisonous alkaloid, piliganine. (C. R. A. S, June, 1886; see also B. G. T., cxi, 174.)
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.