Reindeer Moss

1 entry found.
Reindeer Moss
Common Name: Reindeer Moss
Botanical Name: Cladina spp. (Cladonia spp.) (kla-DEE-na (kla-DON-ee-a))
Decorative Life: Years when dried.
Post Harvest Care:
  • Some people are allergic to mosses. Often better to handle wet than dry.
Family Roots:
  • It is classified in the phylum Bryophyta, which is not a family name.
  • Native to Arctic regions.
  • Foamy, gray-green, sponge-like masses 1-4 inches high, the tangled hollow stocks branching and rebranching.
  • Plant is a fruticose lichen, resembling a miniature tree.
Availability: Year-round.
Flower Color: Not applicable.
Storage Specifics: Any.
  • A lichen is composed of two separate organisms, an alga (or sometimes a bluegreen bacterium) and a fungus. The alga has chlorophyll and so can manufacture food, and the fungus is made up of spongy threads that support the alga and protect it from drying out.
  • Lichens, especially reindeer moss, are the most important winter food of reindeer and caribou, typically comprising 60 to 70 percent of winter diets. The animals can smell lichens through the snow, and paw down to reach them. Although poor in protein, the abundant carbohydrates in lichens provide energy when caribou need to generate body heat and to fuel their foraging activities in winter.
  • Radiation released into the atmosphere through nuclear tests or accidents is absorbed by lichens. From 1945 to 1963, when nuclear tests were conducted above ground, northern lichens absorbed radioactive strontium and cesium which passed up the food chain to caribou and people. The Chernobyl nuclear accident in Russia led to high radioactivity in reindeer meat in central Scandinavia. This will likely persist for many years, and it is feared that this single accident could destroy a regional culture based on reindeer herding.