Stag's-horn Clubmoss is a medium-sized, creeping, perennial herb with a 30 - 120 cm long, forked, branching stem with numerous lateral, erect, 100-300 mm high shoots that branch profusely.
Leaves are needle-like, 3 - 6 mm long, densely arranged at the lower part of the stem, more sparsely arranged above. Their margins are serrated, terminating in a hair-like, white awn. At the end of the numerous branches there are two (but also 1-5) long-stalked spikes with spore tubes in which small spores are formed. We use both the spores and the dried stalk.
The spores resemble a fine, pale yellow powder which is oily to the touch, sticky to the fingers and highly flammable. It is used as a dermatological remedy for childhood skin inflammations, itchy and swollen rashes, scabies and ulcers.
As an indifferent powder, it was also used in pharmacies to coat pills, etc. It is tasteless and odourless.
The spores contain up to 50% fatty oil, the spores' membrane substance sporonin, a polymeric terpene and traces of alkaloids. In stalks, there are also alkaloids, namely lycopodine, clavatine and clavatoxin.
The spores alleviate inflammatory skin processes and, when taken internally, they relieve pain.
Larger doses of the plant are poisonous to the central nervous system.