Grey Reindeer Lichen
Green and grey reindeer lichens are most easily separated by colour. Northern native people used reindeer lichen in medicinal teas to treat colds, arthritis, fevers and other problems. Reindeer lichens were also used as a poultice to relieve the ache of arthritic joints. Reindeer lichens have been taken to treat fever, jaundice constipation, convulsions, coughs, and tuberculosis. Grey reindeer lichen is one of the lichens most frequently grazed by caribou and reindeer. In northern Europe it was collected as fodder for livestock, in the belief that milk from the cows would be creamier and their flesh would be fatter and sweeter. Grey reindeer lichen is an excellent example of a plant that has adapted to surviving the severe conditions of the north. Reindeer lichens grow slowly, and mature clumps are often about 100 years old. These lichens generally produce a new branch each year, so that age of a clump can be estimated by counting back through the major branching’s along a stem. Unfortunately, after about 20 years the lower parts start to decompose and eventually you must make an arbitrary decision as to what is living and what is dead. This lichen was photographed in a (now cut down) wood in Prosperous, County Kildare.