Lycopodium
Title: Lycopodium
Additional Names: Club-moss spores; Lycopodium seed (spores); vegetable sulfur
Literature References: Spores of Lycopodium clavatum L., Lycopodiaceae. The spores of Lycopodium annotinum L., and of L. anceps Wall., Lycopodiaceae can also be used. The spores contain a substance called selagnine. Habit. North America, Europe, Asia; cultivated in Russia.
Properties: The spores are a fine yellowish powder which is highly flammable. Odorless and tasteless. Unctuous to the touch and easily sticking to the fingers. Lycopodium powder is very mobile and when poured on a flat surface should form an even layer, without visible lumps or dimples. When observed in chloral hydrate soln it is seen that the powder consists of unicellular lycopod spores, about 30 m in diameter, in the shape of triangular pyramids with a convex base and rounded angles; a three-radical suture runs from the top of the pyramid along its facets. After warming and crushing the spores between glass slides, they burst along the suture and yield drops of oil, assuming a red color with alkalies. Adulteration usually consists of the admixture of flour (detected microscopically with iodine soln which stains the starch grains of the flour violet). Other admixtures may be pine pollen and sawdust. When mounted with chloral hydrate, pine pollen is larger than lycopodium, it is oval and has two lateral flying sacs, filled with air, and appearing black at the beginning of the observation. Sawdust is easily detected by the phloroglucinol test.
Use: As covering for pills or suppositories; in explosives, pyrotechnics, flashlight powders; as "dry parting compound" in foundry work for ornamental and nameplate castings. Review: Appel, Sci. Mon. 78, 268 (1954).
Therap-Cat: Adsorbent.

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