Club Moss

Though not generally thought worth more than a passing notice, or

to possess any claims of a medicinal sort, yet the Club Moss,

which is of common growth in Great Britain on heaths and hilly

pastures, exerts by its spores very remarkable curative effects, and

[114] therefore it should be favourably regarded as a Herbal

Simple. It is exclusively due to homoeopathic provings and

practice, that the Lycopodium clavatum (Cl
b Moss) takes an

important position amongst the most curative vegetable remedies

of the present day.

The word lycopodium means wolf's claw, because of the

claw-like ends to the trailing stems of this moss; and the word

clavatum signifies that its inflorescence resembles a club. The

spores of Club Moss constitute a fine pale-yellow, dusty powder

which is unctuous, tasteless, inodorous, and only medicinal when

pounded in all agate mortar until the individual spores, or nuts, are


By being thus triturated, the nuts give out their contents, which are

shown to be oil globules, wherein the curative virtues of the moss

reside. Sugar of milk is then rubbed up for two hours or more with

the broken spores, so as to compose a medicinal powder, which is

afterwards to be further diluted; or a tincture is made from the

fractured spores, with spirit of ether, which will develop their

specific medicinal properties. The Club Moss, thus prepared,

has been experimentally taken by provers in varying material

doses; and is found through its toxical affinities in this way

to be remarkably useful for chronic mucous indigestion and

mal-nutrition, attended with sallow complexion, slow, difficult

digestion, flatulence, waterbrash, heartburn, decay of bodily

strength, and mental depression. It is said that whenever a fan-like

movement of the wings of the nostrils can be observed during the

breathing, the whole group of symptoms thus detailed is specially

curable by Club Moss.

As a dose of the triturated powder, reduced to a weaker

dilution, ten grains may be taken twice a day [115] mixed with a

dessertspoonful of water; or of the tincture largely reduced in

strength, ten drops twice a day in like manner. Chemically, the oil

globules extracted from the spores contain alumina and

phosphoric acid. The diluted powder has proved practically

beneficial for reducing the swelling and for diminishing the

pulsation of aneurism when affecting a main blood-vessel of the


In Cornwall the Club Moss is considered good against most

diseases of the eyes, provided it be gathered on the third day of the

moon when first seen; being shown the knife whilst the gatherer

repeats these words:--

As Christ healed the issue of blood,

Do thou cut what thou cut test for good.

Then at sundown the Club Moss should be cut by the operator

whilst kneeling, and with carefully washed hands. It is to be

tenderly wrapped in a fair white cloth, and afterwards boiled in

water procured from the spring nearest the spot where it grew,

and the liquor is to be applied as a fomentation; or the Club Moss

may be made into an ointment with butter from the milk of a new

cow. Such superstitious customs had without doubt a Druidic

origin, and they identify the Club Moss with the Selago, or golden

herb, Cloth of Gold of the Druids. This was reputed to confer the

power of understanding the language of birds and beasts, and was

intimately connected with some of their mysterious rites; though

by others it is thought to have been a sort of Hedge Hyssop


The Common Lycopodium bears in some, districts the name of

Robin Hood's hatband. Its unmoistenable powder from the

spores is a capital absorbing application to weeping, raw surfaces.

At the shops, this [116] powder of the Club Moss spores is sold as

witch meal, or vegetable sulphur. For trade purposes it is

obtained from the ears of a Wolfsfoot Moss, the Lycopodium

clavatum, which grows in the forests of Russia and Finland. The

powder is yellow of colour, dust-like and smooth to the touch.

Half a drachm of it given during July in any proper vehicle has

been esteemed a noble remedy to cure stone in the bladder.

Being mixed with black pepper, it was recognized by the College

of Physicians in 1721 as a medicine of singular value for

preventing and curing hydrophobia. Dr. Mead, who had repeated

experience of its worth, declared that he never knew it to fail when

combined with cold bathing.

Club Moss powder ignites with a flicker, and is used for stage

lightning. It is the Blitzmehl, or lightning-meal of the Germans,

who give it in doses of from fifteen to twenty grains for the cure of

epilepsy in children.

When the Mortal Struggle was produced (see Nicholas Nickleby)

by Mr. Vincent Crummles at Portsmouth, with the aid of Miss

Snevelicci, and the Infant Phenomenon, lurid lightning was

much in request to astonish the natives; and this was sufficiently

well simulated by igniting, with a sudden flash and a hiss,

highly inflammable spores of the Club Moss projected against

burning tow within a hollow cone, producing weird scenic effects.