Family • Lycopodiaceae - Lycopodium clavatum Linn. - COMMON CLUB MOSS - Shen jin cao

Scientific names

Lycopodium clavatum Linn.
Lycopodium clavatum var. radianum Spring

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Shen jin cao, Dong bei shi song.
ITALIAN: Licopodio clavato..
SPANISH: Polvo de licopodio.

Common names

Buntot ungoy (Bis.)
Licopodio (Tag.)
Wolf’s claw (Engl.)
Common clubmoss (Engl.)
Elk moss (Engl.)
Running clubmoss (Engl.)
Running groundpine (Engl.)
Princess pine (Engl.)
Staghorn clubmoss (Engl.)

Gen info
• Lycopodium is Greek-derived, lukos (wolf) and podo (foot); called “wolf’s foot” from its resemblance of the branch tips to a wolf’s paw. clavatum, from Latin, means “club shaped.”


Licopodio is a perennial with prostrate, creeping, tough and flexible woody stem, growing to a length up to 5 meters or more, dichotomously branched, with short and ascending branches. Leaves are very numerous, small and persistent, 5 to 8 millimeters long, closely placed and densely imbricated on the stem, points all turned somewhat upwards, sessile, linear-oblong, the apex terminating in a hairlike process as long as the leaf. Spikes are borne singly or in pairs, at the end of the erect and slender stiff branches, 2.5 to 6 centimeters long, cylindric, linear, blunt and composed of short-stalked imbricated bracts, terminating to a long filiform point. Spores are pale yellow, very minute, tetrahedral, and finely reticulated.


– In the Philippines, limited to the high mountainous areas of Luzon.
– Extensively distributed globally, found in the temperate and colder regions of both hemispheres and in the Old and New Worlds.

– Principal constituent is a fixed oil, 47 %, described as a bland and maintaining liquidity even at low temperatures of 5º Fahrenheit.
Study yielded three serratene triterpenoids.
Study yielded alkaloids lycopodine (major alkaloid), clavatine and clavatoxine; polyphenolic acids including dihydrocaffeic; flavonoids including apigenin, and triterpenes.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antioxidant and antimicrobial actions of the clubmoss Lycopodium clavatum L / Ilkay Orhan, Berrin Ozcelik et al / Phytochemistry Reviews, Volume 6, Number 1 / April, 2007 / DOI 10.1007/s11101-006-9053-x

(2) Serratene triterpenoids fromLycopodium clavatum L. (Lycopodiaceae) / N N Trofimova et al / Russian Chemical Bulletin • Volume 45, Number 4 / April, 1996 / DOI 10.1007/BF01431333

(3) Protective potentials of plant extract (Lycopodium clavatum) on mice chronically fed hepato-carcinogens / Surajit Pathak, Antara Banerjee et al / Indian Journ of Experimental Biology • Vol 37, July 2009, pp 602-607

(4) Lycopodium clavatum / Running Ground Pine / Earl J S Rook /

(5) Lycopodium clavatum – L. / Common Club Moss / Plants For A Future

(6) Lycopodine from Lycopodium clavatum extract inhibits proliferation of HeLa cells through induction of apoptosis via caspase-3 activation / Sushil Kumar Mandal, Raktim Biswas et al / European Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 626, Issues 2-3, 25 January 2010, Pages 115-122 / doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.09.033

(7) Asthma following occupational exposure to Lycopodium clavatum in condom manufacturers / P Cullinan, J Cannon et al / Thorax 1993;48:774-775 / doi:10.1136/thx.48.7.774

(8) Hepatroprotective action of potentized lycopodium clavatum L. / R.K. Sur, Kajal Samajdar, Susmita Mitra, M.K. Gole, B.N. Chakrabarty / British Homeopathic Journal, Volume 79, Issue 3 , Pages 152-156, July 1990

(9) Simulating transfer and persistence of a chemical marker powder for Lycopodium clavatum spores / Howarth J, Coulson S, Newton A / Forensic Science International, [2009, 192(1-3):72-77 / DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.07.021

(10) Preliminary study to evaluate analgesic and behavioural effects of Lycopodium clavatum in experimental animals / Echur Natarajan Sundaram, Kushal Pal Singh, Pratap Karnati Reddy, Sunil Kumar, Kainikkara Raven Janardanan Nair, Anil Khurana, Hari Singh, Chaturbhuja Nayak / Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 2013, Volume 7, Issue 4, Pp 168-175

(11) Antiprotozoal activity and cytotoxicity of Lycopodium clavatum and Lycopodium complanatum subsp. chamaecyparissus extracts / Ilkay Erdoğan Orhan, Bilge Şener, Marcel Kaiser, Reto Brun, Deniz Tasdemir / Turk J Biochem] 2013; 38 (4) ; 403–408 / doi: 10.5505/tjb.2013.07379

(12) Antioxidant potential of Lycopodium clavatum and Cnicus benedictus hydroethanolic extracts on stressed mice. / Durdun, C.; Papuc, C.; Crivineanu, M.; Nicorescu, V. / Veterinary Medicine 2011 Vol. 57 No. 3 pp. 61-68

(13) Potentized Homeopathic Drug Lycopodium clavatum 78 79 (5C and 15C) Shows an Anticancer Effect on HeLa Cells In Vitro / Asmita Samadder, Sreemanti Das, Jayeeta Das, Avijit Paul, Naoual Boujedaini, Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh * / Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies (2013) / j.jams.2013.04.004


Considered analgesic, antiinflammatory, antirheumatic, antioxidant, antipruritic, antispasmodic, carminative, decongestant, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue, tonic.

Parts utilized 
Entire plant.

– Polvo de licopodio is used as a dusting powder for excoriated skin problems, as in the intertrigo of infants, and in eczema and erysipelas.
– Used for gout and rheumatism.
– Used to stimulate the appetite.
– Used to relieve spasmodic retention of urine in children.
– Used for urinary and kidney stones.
– Used for constipation, piles, flatulence, enteritis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
– In the Visayas, the material is crushed or finely chopped, heated with salt, for application to insect and centipede bites.
– In China, decoction of the plant used for beriberi and nervous conditions.
– In India, used for the treatment of inflammation-related diseases.
– In the Pyrenees region plat is used as a diuretic.
– Used for healing of bed sores – finely powdered club moss is spread over the open sores.
– infusion used for liver cirrhosis and malignant liver conditions.
– Spores inhaled to stop bleeding noses; applied to wounds and various skin diseases.

– Pharmacy: Used to envelop pills to prevent in from sticking; also to alter the taste.
– Mordant: Used as mordant in dyeing.
– Weaving: Stems made into matting.
– Etc: Used in fireworks and artificial lighting.

• Infusion: An infusion is made with 1/4 liter of boiling water poured over a level teaspoon of Club Moss. 1 cup is taken in small sips, half an hour before breakfast. For malignant diseases of the liver and cirrhosis, 2 cups daily.
• Club Moss Pillow: 100 to 300 gm depending on the size of the area affected by cramp. Stuff the material into a pillow and apply to the aching area overnight. (Pillow retains can be used for a year.)

Toxicity & Allergy concerns 
• Constituents: Contains lycopodine which may be paralyzing to the motor nerves. Contains clavatine which is toxic to many mammals. Spores are not known to be toxic.
• Asthma: Report of occupational asthma in two women employed in the manufacture of condoms. The spores of LC, used as a rubber dusting agent, were identified as the causative agent.

Study Findings
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of extracts showed antiinflammatory activity probably from the alkaloid compounds and supports its folkloric use.
• Antimicrobial / Antifungal / Antiviral: All extracts showed activity against test strains of S aureus. LC extracts showed antifungal activity. Only the chloroform extract showed activity against HSV. All extracts showed insignificant antiradical effect on DPPH. Lycopodine was identified as the major alkaloid.
• Hepatoprotective / Antitumor: Study evaluated the protective effect of a plant extract in mice chronically fed hepato-carcinogens. Treatment with spore extract of Lycopodium clavatum had a significant reduction of tumor incidence in the liver of carcinogen intoxicated mice. Results validate the extract use in complementary and alternative use against hepatotoxicity.
• Lycopodine / Anti-Cancer Property / Chemotherapeutic Potential: Crude ethanolic extract of LC is a mixture of about 200 alkaloids. Results showed that lycopodine considerably inhibited growth of HeLa cells indicating its potential use in chemotherapy.
• Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Induced Damage: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective action of L. clavatum against carbon tetrachloride-induced damage in rats. Results showed control of biochemical parameters. The protective action was confirmed by microanatomical studies of hepatic tissues.
• Chemical Marker Powder / Forensic Use: Study showed a powder, based on L. clavatum spores, to have potential for use as a chemical marker for forensic evidence of persons having handled objects. The rate of loss in the decay curve (decrease in spores) was highest in the first two hours.
• Analgesic and CNS Depressant Effects / Forensic Use: Study investigated the possible analgesic and behavioral effects of homeophathic formulations of L. clavatum in animal models using hot plate, ice place, Randall-Selitto tests and behavioral effects using rota rod and open field tests. Results showed homeopathic formulations possess central nervous system depressant activity.
• Antiprotozoal Activity: Study investigated the antiprotozoal activity of extracts of L. clavatum and L. camplanatum L. subsp. chamaecyparissus against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, T. cruzi, Leishmania donovani and Plasmodium falcifarum. Results showed both fern species contain antiprotozoal activity with no cytotoxicity.
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the efficacy of club moss (L. clavatum) and blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) hydroalcoholic extracts in preventing oxidative stress damage in liver tissue of mice. Results showed treatment of mice with plant phenophenols resulted in marked improvement in most of the studied parameters.
• Anti-Cancer / Homeopathically Potentized Dilutions: Study of homeopathically potentized ultrahigh dilutions of L. clavatum (LC-5C and LC-15C) demonstrated an ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells.

Pellets, powders, extracts in the cybermarket.