The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => General Board => Topic started by: L. Wakefield on December 12, 2000, 05:36:21 PM

Title: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: L. Wakefield on December 12, 2000, 05:36:21 PM
   Hi.. Y'all are probably used to my approach to forestry topics by now- that would be 'a little bit sideways'- well, I can't remember if I've muttered about lichens in this group previously- but even if so, I'll tune up again, cuz I think this is just too cool.
  I am into perfumery and blending essential oils (yah, I'm one of THOSE people..), and one of the fascinating scents I discovered was 'oakmoss'- extracted in France from stuff imported from many European countries- Yugoslavia, others but I don't want to be inaccurate in my listing. It's not a moss, nor does it grow exclusively on oak- it's a lichen or several species of lichens, among which are Evernia prunastri and various usnia species. When extracted and blended, this odd smelling stuff has an extraordinary effect on the blend. They discovered this long ago.
  So I went out to fool around in the woods (as always), and found I had some of the 'right' species growing- and tried extracting the good stuff.. and have gradually gotten to where I can tell by the scent of the woods on a warm day whether I am likely to find the lichen.
  So I was loading the woodstove, and caught the same scent about a week ago- and checked the cordwood- and there they were- my little lichens-   They are a source of both usnic acid (an antibiotic and antifungal material), and a moderately complex group of scented materials.
  And interestingly, they are a good indicator of pollution effects (judging by this benchmark, it's pretty unpolluted around here).
  They are also considered an endangered species in some countries (Scandinavian etc.) by clearcutting.
  So I'm going to look into the prevalence of these species on new growth and old growth trees. And if I get organized, I'm going to look at growth rate, and whether or not I can prune a patch and have it re-grow from the base. If I get organized and re-post, I'll list some websites where you can see pix.       LW  
Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: L. Wakefield on December 14, 2000, 06:17:27 AM
   Checking my lichen references, I find the bet summary is (appropriately) http://www.lichen.com/   LW
Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: Theguide on December 19, 2000, 01:39:30 PM
Treehugger,

Great post, great lichen site.  I have included it in my non-traditional forest products site...

http://forestry.about.com/science/forestry/cs/alternativeforest/index.htm

Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: Jeff on December 19, 2000, 02:44:36 PM
 I noticed a large growth of what appeared to be a form of Lichen next to a company plantation in the U.P. this past Fall. (about the time the larch were golden). I didn't have my camera with me so I did not get a picture for reference, but they were a pastel shade of pink. Perhaps these were a moss, I don't know.

  After spending some time on the lichen.com site, I know I will go back to that patch and take a CLOSE look this next year. The pictures of the lichen on that site seem almost alien, but beautiful. Made me appreciate a world we normally just walk past.
Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: Forester Frank on December 20, 2000, 10:41:06 AM
I'm "lichen" what I'm hearin'. I will go to the lichen site for a view. Sorry to all that have missed me - especially Jeff, but I have been a busy bee lately.

Wondering if the anti-fungal effects of the lichen will work in my boots? Maybe I should just opt for purchasing Lamisil at the local Rite Aid.
Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: L. Wakefield on December 20, 2000, 05:54:30 PM
   As for the anti-fungal effects, I haven't tried it yet- but I was thinking dried and powdered usnia might be an adequate substitute for some of the foot powders- kind of a green Desenex, yknow? I'm not recommending it as something I personally know to be a good idea,, cuz I haven't tried it- but it's a thought, and from some of the web-refs, it's already been done in some countries and in some cultures. OTOH, there was also one of those rabid anti-herbal sites that I found once that was railing furiously AGAINST usnia- I think they were referring to it being taken internally.
  If you are interested in reading about usnic acid, it is described in the Merck Index as a known antibiotic. (Gee, our own rain-forest type drugs here in the temperate zone! Who'a thunk it??)          LW
Title: Re: non timber forestry products- lichens
Post by: L. Wakefield on February 16, 2001, 05:30:28 PM
 I almost started a new thread for this, but since this one was still lying around, I thought I'd append to it. As I had posted earlier, I had been looking at usnia and evernia species. We had a 25-30mph windstorm last weekend, and my husband and I took a walk thru the woods today. Well, one of the theories about these species is that they are windsewn, and from what I saw today, I would agree, esp. if you are speaking of that wind velocity. The trail was littered with small and large specimens of both species. I had my pockets stuffed by the time I got back in. Until I have done a good bit more studying on these species (growth rate and etc.), I remain tentative at harvesting more than a nominal amount. However, this is certainly guilt-free harvesting. The best bits are always out of reach anyway- but not today. I found it interesting that, tho the trail was crossed several times by moose tracks, I could not tell that the downed lichens had been chewed. How would I tell?- not sure, but I think the tracks would have more indicated grazing and chewing to loosen the bits stuck in the snow (thawed and then refrozen since the windstorm).
  So my first tentative conclusion is that these species are not greatly prized as browse by moose. I know they contain usnic acid, and it may make them bitter. I have not yet tried chewing any myself to compare with the general taste of some of their other browse. The moose have devoured a bunch of red maple twigs, and those tend to taste quite good. Excellent day for a walk!