LYCOPODIUM, the principal genus of the Lycopodiaceae, a natural order of the Fern-allies (see PTERIDOPHYTA). They are flowerless herbs, with an erect, prostrate or creeping widelybranched stem, with small simple leaves which thickly cover the stem and branches. The " fertile " leaves are arranged in cones, and bear spore-cases (sporangia) in their axils, containing spores of one kind only. The prothallium developed from the spore is a subterranean mass of tissue of considerable size, and bears the male and female organs (antheridia and archegonia). There are about a hundred species widely distributed in temperate and tropical climates; five occur in Britain on heaths and moors, chiefly in mountainous districts, and are known as club- *Two passages of the Cassandra, 1446-1450 and 1226-1282, in which the career of the Roman people and their universal empire are spoken of, could not possibly have been written by an Alexandrian poet of 250 B.C. Hence it has been maintained by Niebuhr and others that the poem was written by a later poet mentioned by Tzetzes, but the opinion of Welcker that these paragraphs are a later interpolation is generally considered more probable.
mosses. The commonest species, L. davatum, is also known as stag-horn moss.
Gerard, in 1597, described two kinds of lycopodium (Herball, P- 1373) under the names Muscus denticulatus and Muscus davatus (L. davatum) as " Club Mosse or Woolfes Clawe Mosse," the names being in Low Dutch, " Wolfs Clauwen," from the resemblance of the club-like or claw-shaped shoots to the toes of a wolf, " whereupon we first named it Lycopodion." Gerard also speaks of its emetic and many other supposed virtues. L. Selago and L. catharticum (a native of the Andes) have been said to be, at least when fresh, cathartic; From Strasburger's Lehrbuch der Bolanik, by permission of Gustav Fischer. FIG. I. Lycopodium davatum.
A, Old prothallus. the specialized erect branches B, Prothallus bearing a young bearing the strobile or cones.
sporophyte. H, Sporophyte bearing the single G, Polian of a mature plant, sporangium on its upper showing the creeping habit, surface, the adventitious roots and J, Spore.
but, with the exception of the spores of L. davatum (" lycopodium powder "), lycopodium as a drug has fallen into disuse. The powder is used for rolling pills in, as a dusting powder for infants' sores, etc. A tinctura lycopodii, containing one part of the powder to ten of alcohol (ox %), has been given, in doses of 15 to 60 minims, in cases of irritation and spasm of the bladder. The powder is highly inflammable, and is used in pyrotechny and for artificial lightning on the stage. If the hand be covered with the powder it cannot be wetted on being plunged into water. Another use of lycopodium is for dyeing; woollen cloth boiled with species of lycopodium, as L. davatum, becomes blue when dipped in a bath of Brazil wood.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)