Lycopodium (U.S.P. 1863 to 1947; N.F. 1947 to date) consists of the spores of Lycopodium clavatum Linne (Family Lycopodiacea). The spores are obtained from the ripened strobiles by shaking the fruiting tops on cloths, and the extraneous matter is removed by sifting. The principal sources of supply are Esthonia, Latvia, Western Russia and Switzerland.
The generic name Lycopudutm is derived from the Greek and has reference to the fancied resemblance of the shoots of the plant to the foot of a wolf; the specific name chivatiun refers to the club-like character of the strobile.
DESCRIPTION.— A pale yellow, very mobile powder, nearly inodorous and taste-less, floating upon water and not wetted by it, but sinking on being boiled with it, and burning quickly when thrown into a flame. The spores are somewhat like a three-sided pyramid with convex base, from 25 to 40 microns in diameter; the outer surface reticulate, the reticulations being polygonal and formed by straight-sided delicate ridges which form a delicate fringe at the edges of the spore; when viewed with the rounded surface of the spore on the under side, a distinct triangular mark-ing is seen, formed by the edges of the flat surfaces of the spore.
CONSTITUENTS.—About 50 per cent of a deep green, odorless, non-drying oil with an acid reaction, which consists chiefly of oleic acid. The spores yield about 1 per cent of ash. On heating with a solution of potassium hydrate, monomethyl-amine is liberated, and on macerating the spores in alcohol, a part of the alcohol is converted into an aldehyde.
Uses of Lycopodium
USES.—Lycopodium is used as a dusting powder to protect tender surfaces and as an absorbent. In pharmacy it is used to prevent the adhering of pills and sup-positories.
ADULTERANTS.—Lycopodium is sometimes admixed with pine pollen, starchy materials, and various inorganic substances, as sulfur, talc and gypsum. An adulterant of lycopodium has been found to consist of corn starch which had been treated in a special manner and then colored with methyl orange. An artificial lycopodium is prepared by treating Bordeaux turpentine (galipot resin) at near the melting-point with dry ammonia, the resulting product being then dried and pow-dered. The fragments are irregular and transparent and are detected by means of the microscope.
ALLIED PRODUCTS.—The spores of other species of Lycopodium are sometimes collected with those of L. davatum, as fir clubmoss (L. selago); stiff clubmoss (L. annotinum); bog clubmoss (L. inundatum), and the ground pine (L. complanatum). From the latter an alkaloid, lycopodine, has been isolated. A toxic alkaloid, piliganine, has been obtained from piligan (L. saururus), growing in Brazil. L. polytrichoides, of the Hawaiian Islands; L. rubrum, of Venezuela; L. cernum, of the Tropics, and L. selago, of Europe, are also employed in medicine.
Gathercoal and Wirth “PHARMACOGNOSY” By Edward P. Claus, Ph.D (Third Edition, Thoroughly Revised 1956)