Getting to know the land: Lichens

Posted on Dec 3, 2013 | Comments Off on Getting to know the land: Lichens


Lichens abound in the wet forests here in Western North Carolina with their amazing silver-grey-green colors on the tree limbs. Today I’m adding “Usnea” to my Land Life List.  Usnea is the one on the left in the photo.  The Land Life List is the idea of learning the names of everything I can see on the 5 acres that makes up the new homestead. Obviously this is a life-long project!

Lichens and Old Mans Beard


As for the other lichen in the photo- there are so many many kinds of lichens and this is going to take a while to figure out the names! Please chime in if you know the name. The two in the photo fell out of an old maple tree after a strong windy day.

Usnea is also known as Old Man’s Beard, Woman’s Long Hair, Beard Lichen and a few others according to wiki.  Turns out it is used as a medicinal, primarily for immune response and infections per herbalist Jessica Godino in this article on Susan Weed’s site.  Wiki mentions it has been used in this way for over 1600 years. Usnea, great to meet you!

Other lichens are being investigated as possible help for diseases involving prions (think mad cow and other neurodegenerative diseases).  Just another reason to protect intact and old-growth forests, hello. Don’t get me started…

If you just can get enough of the incredible color and forms of lichens here is a set of lovely photos too.

Thanks for stopping by to check out the beginnings of the Land Life List here at Five Apple Farm! I encourage you to start a list at your own land, or backyard or city block!

with love,


—A Larrapin Garden…recently re-settled in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Posts on this blog may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email—usually on Wednesdays—to let you know what’s new. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany at the Facebook page or on Twitter. The Pinterest boards (Pinterest should carry a  habit-forming warning label by the way) are here.


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