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Toxic parts

The plant contains lycopodine, which is poisonous by paralysing the motor nerves[1][2]. It also contains clavatine which is toxic to many mammals[2]. The spores, however, are not toxic[1].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Lycopodium complanatum.

Material uses

The plant can be used as a mordant in dyeing[3][4].

The following uses are for L. clavatum. They quite possibly also apply to this species[K].

The spores are water repellent and can be used as a dusting powder to stop things sticking together[5][6]. They are also used as a talcum powder and for dressing moulds in iron foundries[7]. They can also be used as explosives in fireworks and for artificial lightning[8][9][10][6][11].

The stems are made into matting[8].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A decoction of the plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, stomachic and tonic[12][2][13]. It is used internally in the treatment of urinary and kidney disorders, catarrhal cystitis, gastritis etc[13]. It is applied externally to skin diseases and irritations[13]. The plant can be harvested all year round and is used fresh or dried[13].

The spores of this plant are antipruritic, decongestant, diuretic and stomachic[12]. They are applied externally as a dusting powder to various skin diseases, to wounds or inhaled to stop bleeding noses[12][14]. They can also be used to absorb fluids from injured tissues[11][2]. The spores are harvested when ripe in late summer[15]. The spores can also be used as a dusting powder to prevent pills sticking together[12][11].

A homeopathic remedy is made from the spores[16]. It has a wide range of applications including dry coughs, mumps and rheumatic pains[16][13].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[17]. Layering of growing tips[17].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Lycopodium complanatum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Thrives in a rough spongy peat in a shady position[18]. Requires a humid atmosphere[17].

Terrestrial members of this genus are hard to establish. The roots are delicate and liable to rot, most water being absorbed through the foliage[17]. The plant has an aromatic resinous smell[12]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[19].

Although looking more like a moss, this genus is closely related to the ferns[17].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Lycopodium complanatum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Lycopodium complanatum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Lycopodium complanatum
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? 1.01.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    2. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    4. ? 4.04.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
    6. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    8. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    10. ? 10.010.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
    11. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    12. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    13. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    16. ? Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan. London. ISBN 0-333-55581-3 (1990-00-00)
    17. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    18. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    19. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    20. ? Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)