Common Names

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island cetraria lichen
Iceland lichen
Iceland-moss
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Description

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Cetraria islandica is a fruticose lichen with a small to medium brown
thallus growing loosely on the soil. It is usually tufted, many lobed,
and irregularly branched [14,17,18,21]. Colonies are 2 to 8 inches
(5-20 cm) broad. Apothecia are generally rare [18,36]. Cetraria
islandica exhibits cushionlike growth, making it well suited to weather
high winds in harsh environments. It imbibes water slowly and can
endure prolonged wet periods [33]. Its phycobiant member is of the
genus Aspicilia which has optimum photosynthetic rates at the low
temperatures found in alpine environments [1].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Distribution

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Cetraria islandica is distributed from Canada to Alaska; south to the
Pacific Northwest, Wyoming, Colorado, the Great Lakes states, New
England, and in alpine regions in the Appalachians to Tennessee
[14,17,18].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Fire Ecology

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Cetraria islandica does not generally occur in recently burned areas
[24,27]. Lichens, including C. islandica, are highly flammable under
dry conditions because they desiccate as soon as the humidity drops [15].


FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find FIRE REGIMES".
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Fire Management Considerations

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More info for the terms: cover, lichen, lichens, litter, shrub, tree, tundra

Lichens often serve as an initial point of ignition in woodlands and
tundra and have an essential role in the spread of fire. Lichens dry
rapidly during periods of low relative humidity because of their absence
of roots, water storage tissue, and low resistance to water loss. Dry
lichens resemble dead litter more than live tissue in their
susceptibility to fire. Continuous lichen mats present an uninterrupted
surface along which fire spreads. Lichen mats typically accumulate tree
and shrub litter which adds to flammability [5].

Destruction of forage lichens may have an immediate effect on the winter
range of caribou. Lichens may take 70 to 100 years to regain former
composition and abundance [31]. However, some studies indicate that
fire may increase lichen cover, especially where a thick moss carpet has
developed [41]. In the northern boreal lichen belt, lichen forage may
be increased by burning sphagnum peatlands, black spruce muskegs, sandy
black spruce stands, or tundra heaths. Fires on these sites result in
lichen stands in some 40 to 50 years. Because black spruce and mosses
regenerate more slowly than lichen on these sites, good lichen growth
persists for at least 100 years [3]. Light-severity burning has been
suggested as a method of improving reindeer range in Scandinavia [41].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat characteristics

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More info for the terms: lichens, tundra

Lichens, including C. islandica, are very dependent on air humidity, and
their abundance is generally in direct relation to the relative humidity
of the climate. They are better adapted to cold climates than any other
life form. Lichens grow best in direct sun, and can grow on shallow,
sterile soils [3]. Cetraria islandica is most often found in sandy soil
in exposed areas at high elevations [18]. It commonly grows on moist or
dry tundra among mosses or in the open [36]. Cetraria islandica is also
found on forested sites, nunataks, and rock crevices [17,20,36].
Because C. islandica is able to take up moisture from the air, the
underlying soil is not as important a source of moisture as it is to
vascular plants [3].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
30 Red spruce - yellow birch
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
32 Red spruce
33 Red spruce - balsam fir
34 Red spruce - Fraser fir
35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
38 Tamarack
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
202 White spruce - paper birch
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
208 Whitebark pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
223 Sitka spruce
224 Western hemlock
225 Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock
251 White spruce - aspen
252 Paper birch
253 Black spruce - white spruce
254 Black spruce - paper birch
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES44 Alpine
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the terms: bog, forest

K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
K014 Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K025 Alder - ash forest
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Immediate Effect of Fire

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Cetraria islandica is destroyed by fire [27].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

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More info for the terms: lichen, lichens, woodland

Ground lichens provide an important food source in the winter diet of
caribou [32]. They provide the major bulk of the winter diet of
woodland caribou and are preferred over the more easily accessed
arboreal lichens [3]. In Newfoundland, C. islandica is plentiful in
lichen stands used by caribou but constitutes less than 5 percent of the
lichens ingested [2].

Cetraria spp. are also utilized as forage by reindeer, mountain goat,
moose, and muskox [35].

Cetraria islandica is valued as "good" forage for horses and pigs, and
has been used as fodder for cattle [33].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Key Plant Community Associations

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More info for the terms: bog, cover, lichen, lichens, tundra

Cetraria islandica occurs in various habitats including heaths, dunes,
coastal plains, lichen woodlands, bogs, meadows, and tundra
[2,4,8,23,34]. In the southern extent of its range, C. islandica is
generally restricted to alpine areas [14,43]. Cetraria islandica is a
widely distributed species, but generally does not reach ground cover
dominance. However, the following publication lists C. islandica as a
dominant ground cover species in willow tundra:

The Alaska vegetation classification [40]

Common tundra associates of C. islandica include bog Labrador tea (Ledum
groenlandicum), crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), prickly rose (Rosa
acicularis), bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), mountain cranberry
(V. vitis-idaea), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), bog birch (Betula
glandulosa), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), and willow (Salix spp.).
Other associates include bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis),
horsetails (Equisetum spp.), mosses (Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium
schreberi, Sphagnum spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), and other lichens
(mainly Cladonia spp.) [11,15,29,37,38].

In arctic coastal plain habitats, C. islandica is found with bluegrass
(Poa spp.), purple mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia), sedges
(Carex spp.), cassiope (Cassiope spp.), and mountain avens (Dryas
spp.) [42].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Life Form

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More info for the term: lichen

Lichen
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Management considerations

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More info for the terms: competition, lichen, lichens, tundra

The very slow growth rates of ground lichens is widely recognized
[3,35]. Growth is estimated at an average of 0.2 inch (0.5 cm) per year
[3]. When frequently grazed, ground lichens on winter rangelands may
require up to 10 years for full recovery [35]. Cetraria islandica,
however, tolerates trampling better than the more abundant reindeer
lichens (Cladonia spp.) [2].

In Iceland and Sweden, C. islandica is commercially harvested. Up to
600 pounds is sold each year in Sweden [1]. In Iceland, colonies of C.
islandica are harvested every 3 years to allow the lichen to grow to a
"profitable size" [33].

After disturbance on Alaskan tundra, C. islandica was present in
undisturbed controls and on disturbed sites, even though these sites had
been planted with native and nonnative grasses. Cetraria islandica was
apparently not inhibited by the competition [9].

Lichens are widely used as indicators of air pollution or air quality.
Cetraria islandica exhibits an intermediate sensitivity to sulfur
dioxide and to fluoride, and may be useful as an indicator of high
concentrations of these chemicals [28]. Lichens, including C.
islandica, also absorb radioactive fallout [32].

Mats of C. islandica may diminish seedling establishment [5].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Nutritional Value

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Cetraria islandica is low in protein (estimated at 2 percent) [24,32].
Values of cellulose and lignin concentrations (percent dry weight) from
tundra samples collected in June were 1.5 and 2.4, respectively [7].
Cetraria islandica contains a high percentage of lichenin (complex
starches) that provides an important source of energy [30].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Occurrence in North America

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AK CO CT DE ID ME MD MA MI MN
MT NH NY NC OR PA TN VT VA WA
WV WI WY AB BC MB NB NF NT NS
ON PE PQ SK YT
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Other uses and values

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Cetraria islandica is one of the few lichens consumed by humans. A
powder made from dried C. islandica can be boiled to yield a jelly used
in soups in northern Europe. The powder is also used in breads and
cereals [33]. The astringent qualities of C. islandica make it useful
in tanning leather. It also yields a brown dye [30,33]. Historically,
C. islandica has been used to treat coughs, tuberculosis, fevers, and
scurvy [1,30,33]. It has traditionally held an important place in
Chinese medicine [18]. Cetraria islandica has also been used as a
source of antibiotics [1].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Palatability

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Cetraria islandica is highly palatable [3].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Plant Response to Fire

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More info for the terms: cover, frequency, mesic, tree

In black spruce (Picea mariana)/feathermoss (Pleurozium
schreberi)-Cladonia stands in Alaska, C. islandica was present in
unburned controls but was not found on burned or fireline sites 9 years
after a fire [37]. Cetraria islandica did not survive light or severe
burning in the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska. On severely
burned black spruce sites, C. islandica was not present in the first 3
years following the fire, although it had control plot frequencies of 60
percent [39]. Cover and frequency percentages on burned mesic black
sites in interior Alaska follow [15]:

Years since fire cover frequency
_________________________________________________________________________
Newly burned 0-1 0 0
Moss/herb 1-5 >0.5 1.0
Tall shrub/sapling 5-30 0 0
Dense tree 30-55 >0.5 19.0
Mixed hardwood/spruce 56-90 >0.5 8.0
Spruce 91-200+ >0.5 6.0

Johnson [22], however, states that C. islandica is present in the first
years following fire in open and closed black spruce, white spruce
(Picea glauca), and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) stands in the Northwest
Territories, Canada. It is present throughout seral stages and persists
for 200 to 250 years.
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regeneration Processes

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Cetraria islandica produces ascospores, but sexual reproduction is
infrequent [25]. Reproduction mainly occurs by means of thallus
fragmentation or the dispersal of isidia and soredia. Wind or animals
may play an important role in the dispersal of these vegetative
propagules [1,27].
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Successional Status

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More info for the terms: climax, competition, lichen, lichens, succession

Information on the successional status of C. islandica is sparse, and
the available information is conflicting. Swanson [35] reported that
Cetraria spp. are climax lichens; however, C. islandica is often found
in young lichen stands [2]. Cetraria islandica is also found in seral
floodplain stands in Alaska [38].

Lichens in general decline in productivity in older stands [24]. Ahti
[3] suggests that lichens may be pioneer plants on some sites because
they are dependent on air moisture rather than soil moisture and can
tolerate shallow substrata. They can persist in environments too
harsh for higher plants, provided humidity is sufficiently high for
lichen growth and temperature is sufficiently low to inhibit
competitors. Northern boreal forests offer climatically optimal
conditions for lichen growth because of slow plant succession and little
competition from other plant forms.
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Synonyms

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NO-ENTRY

NR
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Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Cetraria islandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Taxonomy

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The currently accepted scientific name of island cetraria lichen is Cetraria
islandica (L.) Ach. (Parmeliaceae) [10,12,14,19,36]. The following
subspecies are recognized [12,36]:

Cetraria islandica subsp. islandica, island cetraria lichen
Cetraria islandica subsp. crispiformis (Rasanen) Karnef., curly Iceland lichen
Cetraria islandica subsp. orientalis (Asah.) Karnef., eastern Iceland lichen

The common name is rarely used for this lichen; therefore, this review uses its scientific name.
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Cetraria islandica

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Cetraria islandica, also known as true Iceland lichen[1] or Iceland moss, is a Iceland lichen whose erect or upright, leaflike habit gives it the appearance of a moss, where its name likely comes from.

Description

 src=
Iceland Moss

It is often of a pale chestnut color, but varies considerably, being sometimes almost entirely greyish-white; and grows to a height of from 3 to 4 in., the branches being channelled or rolled into tubes, which end in flattened lobes with fringed edges.[2]

Range

It grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, northern England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. In North America its range extends through Arctic regions, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, and to the Appalachian Mountains of New England.[2]

Composition

 src=
Chemical structure of lichenin.

In commerce it is a light-grey harsh cartilaginous body, almost colorless, and tastes slightly bitter. It contains about 70% of lichenin or lichen-starch, a body isomeric with common starch, but without structure. It also yields a peculiar modification of chlorophyll (called thallochlor), fumaric acid, lichenostearic acid, and cetraric acid (which gives it the bitter taste). It forms a nutritious and easily digested amylaceous food, being used in place of starch in some preparations of cocoa. It also contains lichesterinic acid and protolichesterinic acids.[3]

Uses

It is not in great demand, and even in Iceland it is only occasionally used to make folk medicines,[4] and in a few traditional dishes. In earlier times, it was much more widely used in breads, porridges, soups etc.[5] Cetraric acid or cetrarin, a white micro-crystalline powder with a bitter taste, is readily soluble in alcohol, and slightly soluble in water and ether.[3] It has been recommended for medicinal use by alternative medicine sites, in doses of 2 to 4 grains (0.1 to 0.25 grams), as a bitter tonic and aperient.[3] It is traditionally used to relieve chest ailments,[6] irritation of the oral and pharyngeal mucous membranes and to suppress dry cough.[7]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "Standardized Common Names for Wild Species in Canada". National General Status Working Group. 2020.
  2. ^ a b Angier, Bradford (1974). Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Stackpole Books. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8117-2018-2.
  3. ^ a b c 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ Cetraria islandica at Plants for the Future
  5. ^ Iceland Recipe
  6. ^ Iceland Moss Archived 2006-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Assessment report on Cetraria islandica (L.) Acharius s.l., thallus" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. Retrieved 2016-12-27.

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Cetraria islandica: Brief Summary

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Cetraria islandica, also known as true Iceland lichen or Iceland moss, is a Iceland lichen whose erect or upright, leaflike habit gives it the appearance of a moss, where its name likely comes from.

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