Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Little Wolf's Foot

On the 4th of July, I decided to give myself a heart attack by hiking the trail to Raven Rock at Coopers Rock State forest.  Sadly, I failed and survived.

The effort wasn't entirely wasted, as I managed to get a bunch of interesting photographs.   One of the first camera stops was to shot a stand of Lycopodium digitatum, otherwise known as groundcedar.

Here's a moody shot taken from low to the ground:

According to a Wikipedia page on Diphasiastrum digitatum,
Its common name is due to its resemblance to cedar boughs lying on the ground. Its leaves are scale-like and appressed, like a mature cedar, and it is glossy and evergreen. It normally grows to a height of about four inches (10 cm), with the spore-bearing strobili held higher.
More interesting, at least to me,  is that this species was once the principal clubmoss species used for collection of Lycopodium powder, used as a primitive flash powder.
Lycopodium has been used in fireworks and explosives, fingerprint powders, as a covering for pills, and as an ice cream stabilizer. Today, the principal use of the powder is to create flashes or flames that are large and impressive but relatively easy to manage safely in magic acts and for cinema and theatrical special effects. Lycopodium powder is also sometimes used as a lubricating dust on skin-contacting latex (natural rubber) goods, such as condoms and medical gloves.
Here's a very interesting Youtube video, Lycopodium Powder - How to get / make it!   I'm really going to have to try this.