stag’s-horn Clubmoss


Stag’s-horn Clubmoss is a perennial plant, strongly branched and the shoots rise to a height of 10-25 cm. The stem is densely covered with leaves, creeping, up to 1.5 m long and more. Raised, strongly leafy branches grow from the stem, which ended with two spore cobs (2-5 cm long).

The leaves are small, numerous, arranged spirally, linear or linear-lanceolate in shape. Each leaf ended with a white hair at the top. The panicle consists of spore leaves, behind which hides one sporophyll, which contains many spores inside. The spores are a pale yellow, velvety powder, greasy to the touch. Spores mature in July-August.

It is worth knowing that the plant is included in the Latvian Red Book as a protected plant.

The spores of the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss are used for medicinal purposes. Spores of the plant are collected according to their degree of maturation, starting from the second half of summer (from the end of July to September), when the spore pods remain yellow. Spores are collected early in the morning before the dew has dried or in rainy weather. Carefully cut the spore banks with scissors and spread them on paper. Dry the spores in the sun, in windless weather or in a warm room. Under no circumstances should they be dried in hot ovens, as they will stick together and brown.

Do not pull the spore pods for the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss , as this can damage the entire plant by tearing off the roots. This plant regenerates stands with great difficulty.

During the drying process, the spikelets of the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss open and the spores come out. The spores are separated from the debris by sifting it through a sieve. When harvesting the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss , only the cobs are cut, because the plant also reproduces vegetatively, with the help of spores, this happens much more slowly. Spores can be stored indefinitely, it is important to store them only in a dry place. After drying, the remaining part of the plant is also used as a medicinal agent.

The spores of the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss contain a non-drying vegetable fat (<50%), consisting of glycerides of stearic acid, hexadeinol-linoleic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, myristic acid, arachinic acid, lycopodiic acid, dioxystearic acid and tanacetic acid. The spores also contain phytosterol, proteins and mineral salts. The vegetative parts of the plant contain clavatine, clavotoxin, nicotine, lycopodine, alkaloids, flavonoids, sugars, protein and other biologically active compounds.

Medicinal significance

The spores of the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss have diuretic, choleretic, hemostatic, antispasmodic, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties.

The spores and surface parts of the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss have been used in folk medicine since ancient times. Spores are used orally as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, choleretic and antispasmodic. Spores and surface parts and decoctions are used to treat diseases of the liver, digestive tract, and upper respiratory tract. As well as to treat kidney and bladder inflammations, fever, urinary retention in children, kidney and liver colitis, as well as kidney stones, colitis, neuralgia, rheumatic pain. Externally, a decoction of spores is used to treat skin diseases (psoriasis, boils, itchy inflammations and suppurations), purulent wounds and also bruises. Spores can be used in powder form to reduce foot sweating. 

Not recommended for use

The plant is poisonous. When used in large quantities, the Stag’s-horn Clubmoss can cause severe poisoning.