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Lycopodium clavatum

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Lycopodium clavatum

Secure  (NatureServe)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Lycophytes
Class: Lycopodiopsida
Order: Lycopodiales
Family: Lycopodiaceae
Genus: Lycopodium
L. clavatum
Binomial name
Lycopodium clavatum
  • Lepidotis ciliata P. Beauv.
  • Lepidotis clavata (L.) P. Beauv.
  • Lepidotis inflexa P. Beauv.
  • Lycopodium aristatum Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
  • Lycopodium ciliatum (P. Beauv.) Sw.
  • Lycopodium eriostachys Fée
  • Lycopodium inflexum (P. Beauv.) Sw.
  • Lycopodium piliferum Raddi
  • Lycopodium preslii Grev. & Hook.
  • Lycopodium trichiatum Bory
  • Lycopodium trichophyllum Desv.
  • Lycopodium contiguum Klotzsch
  • Copodium oxynemum Raf.
  • Lycopodium divaricatum Wall. ex Hook. & Grev.
  • Lycopodium kinabaluense Ching
  • Lycopodium serpens C. Presl 1825, not Desv. ex Poir. 1814
  • Lycopodium tamariscispica Cesati
  • Lycopodium torridum Gaudich.
  • Urostachys plutonis Herter
  • Lycopodium trichophyes Sprengel
  • Lycopodium mayoris Rosenstock

Lycopodium clavatum (common club moss,[3][4] stag's-horn clubmoss,[5] running clubmoss,[6] or ground pine[7]) is the most widespread species in the genus Lycopodium in the clubmoss family.


Lycopodium clavatum is a spore-bearing vascular plant, growing mainly prostrate along the ground with stems up to 1 m (39 in) long; the stems are much branched, and densely clothed with small, spirally arranged microphyll 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 strobili or spore cones turn erect, reaching 5–15 cm (2.0–5.9 in) above ground, and their leaves are modified as sporophylls that enclose the spore capsules or sporangia. The spore cones are yellow-green, 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long, and 5 mm (0.20 in) 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.

Close-up of strobili


Lycopodium clavatum has a widespread distribution across several continents.[8][9][10][11][12][13] There are distinct subspecies and varieties in different parts of its range:

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.

Other common names

Common names for this species include wolf's-foot clubmoss, common clubmoss, wolf-paw clubmoss, running ground-pine, running pine,[7] running moss, princess pine, and others.


The spores of this moss, "lycopodium powder", are explosive if present in high density air. They were used as flash powder in early photography and magic acts.[citation needed]

The plant has been used in Finnish traditional medicine as a diuretic and as a remedy for rickets.[14]

Active constituents

Bioactive secondary metabolites in clubmosses include triterpenoids with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor activity isolated from this species.[15]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Lycopodium clavatum L.
  2. ^ "Family Lycopodiaceae, genus Lycopodium; world species list". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  3. ^ "Lycopodium clavatum (common clubmoss, running clubmoss): Go Botany". gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  4. ^ "Licopodio, Lycopodium clavatum, Common club moss: Philippine herbal medicines / Stuartxchange". www.stuartxchange.org. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  5. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  6. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Lycopodium clavatum". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Bailey, L.H.; Bailey, E.Z.; the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. 1976. Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. Macmillan, New York.
  8. ^ "Lycopodium clavatum in Flora of North America @ efloras.org". www.efloras.org. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  9. ^ "Lycopodium clavatum in Flora of China @ efloras.org". www.efloras.org. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  10. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Lycopodium clavatum L. includes photos and European distribution map
  11. ^ Jørgensen, P. M., M. H. Nee & S. G. Beck. (eds.) 2014. Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia, Monographs in systematic botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 127(1–2): i–viii, 1–1744. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis
  12. ^ Mickel, J. T. & J. M. Beitel. 1988. Pteridophyte Flora of Oaxaca, Mexico. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden 46: 1–568
  13. ^ Gibbs Russell, G. E., W. G. M. Welman, E. Retief, K. L. Immelman, G. Germishuizen, B. J. Pienaar, M. Van Wyk & A. Nicholas. 1987. List of species of southern African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 2(1–2): 1–152(pt. 1), 1–270(pt. 2).
  14. ^ Piirainen, Mikko; Piirainen, Pirkko; Vainio, Hannele (1999). Kotimaan luonnonkasvit [Native wild plants] (in Finnish). Porvoo, Finland: WSOY. p. 18. ISBN 951-0-23001-4.
  15. ^ Rollinger JM, Ewelt J, Seger C, Sturm S, Ellmerer EP, Stuppner H (2005). Planta Med;71(11):1040-3. PMID 16320206

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