[Plant-education] lycopodium powder in the classroom

Jensen, Douglas Doug.Jensen at Converse.edu
Wed Sep 7 10:56:55 EST 2005

This is great fun to do.  I get my materials from a chemistry professor
who uses them to demonstrate kinetics.


We have the spores in a plastic ketchup squeeze bottle that you find in
restaurants-the kind with the pointed nozzle.  Shake the bottle up, and
spray a puff through a flame.  If I can find a smoker, we'll do it
through a lit lighter.  Otherwise, we do the boring Bunsen burner.  The
flash is large and fast, so you want to have the lighter-holder wear
glasses, and (duh) spray away from him or her.  The smell of burned
spores is somewhat distasteful.


The best demonstration I saw of lycopod spores was in the field in
northern Michigan.  The strobili were very dense and all releasing
spores.  Someone held a lighter, and someone else brushed his hand
through the strobili.  


I was unaware of the allergic reaction, so I may have to reconsider this
demonstration.  Perhaps a facemask would be sufficient.



Douglas P. Jensen

Assistant Professor and Chair of Biology

Converse College

Spartanburg, South Carolina, 29302

douglas.jensen at converse.edu



-----Original Message-----
From: plant-ed-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu
[mailto:plant-ed-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu] On Behalf Of Porter-Utley,
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 11:15 AM
To: plant-ed at magpie.bio.indiana.edu
Subject: [Plant-education] lycopodium powder in the classroom


Has anyone attempted to demonstrate the flammable nature of Lycopodium
spores in the classroom?  If so, I am interested in hearing about your


Kindest Regards,



Kristen E. Porter-Utley, Ph.D.

Keene State College

229 Main St.


Department of Biology

Keene, NH 03435

Office Telephone:  603-358-2576


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