Oak Moss Lichen

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Lichens, Pacific Northwest

Oak Moss Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC
Oak Moss, Photo By Bud Logan

Oak moss is a species of fruticose lichen that is valued for its oriental fragrance and as a fixative base. It grows throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, in all of B.C. and on all parts of Vancouver Island.

The pale greenish gray thallus is up to 8 cm long and is palmately branched. The upper surface is green with pale gray reproductive bodies, Oak moss can vary in color, being minty green or almost white when dry, or dark olive green and even yellowish when wet. The under surface is whitish with a faint net-like pattern. This bushy lichen is very short, flat and has a strap like thallus that somewhat resembles the shape of deer antlers.

Oak moss was used in perfumery as early as the 16th century, although baskets filled with it have been found in the ancient royal tombs of Egypt, but whether it was intended for perfume or for food is not known as oak moss does contain a starchy edible substance.

A mixture of acids extracted from it is also used in drugs for treating external wounds and infections.

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