Herb: Ground Pine

Latin name: Lycopodium complanatum

Family: Lycopodiaceae (Club-moss Family)

Medicinal use of Ground Pine:

A decoction of the plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, stomachic and tonic. It is used internally in the treatment of urinary and kidney disorders, catarrhal cystitis, gastritis etc. It is applied externally to skin diseases and irritations. The plant can be harvested all year round and is used fresh or dried. The spores of this plant are antipruritic, decongestant, diuretic and stomachic. They are applied externally as a dusting powder to various skin diseases, to wounds or inhaled to stop bleeding noses. They can also be used to absorb fluids from injured tissues. The spores are harvested when ripe in late summer. The spores can also be used as a dusting powder to prevent pills sticking together. A homeopathic remedy is made from the spores. It has a wide range of applications including dry coughs, mumps and rheumatic pains.

Description of the plant:


5 cm
(2 inches)


Habitat of the herb:

Moist coniferous woods, from lowlands to moderate elevations in the mountains of Western N. America.

Other uses of Ground Pine:

The plant can be used as a mordant in dyeing. The following uses are for L. clavatum. They quite possibly also apply to this species. The spores are water repellent and can be used as a dusting powder to stop things sticking together. They are also used as a talcum powder and for dressing moulds in iron foundries. They can also be used as explosives in fireworks and for artificial lightning. The stems are made into matting.

Propagation of the herb:

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. Layering of growing tips.

Cultivation of Ground Pine:

Moist coniferous woods, from lowlands to moderate elevations in the mountains of Western N. America.

Known hazards of Lycopodium complanatum:

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

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.