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To grow flash powder

August 20, 2011

The clubmosses (Lycophyta) are ancient plants resembling the very first plants on land. Fossils from about 400 million years ago are not too different from today’s clubmosses found in moist forests, also in Thailand. Unlike flowering plants which have seeds, clubmosses have spores formed by sporangia at the leaf bases. During the current rainy season, many such plants sporulate. The spores are sometimes called ‘flash powder’, as they ignite intensively due to the oil content, and has been used in fireworks and in flash photography. The spores are also a classical lubrication powder in latex products.

This primitive form of clubmoss currently sporulating at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai is epiphytic, and it lacks special spore forming branches like in true clubmosses (Lycopodium). Depending on what system you use for nomenclature, this is either a Huperzia or a Phlegmariurus. In Australia the epiphytic clubmosses are called tassel ferns, but be aware it is neither a moss nor a fern!

 

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