Reindeer Lichen is also known as reindeer moss
Characteristics of Reindeer Moss
Reindeer Moss is the more common name for Cladonia rangiferina. Known by various names, such as Lichen Moss or Caribou Moss, Reindeer Moss refers to a variety of 40 species of moss that grow mainly in the Arctic regions. Colors may vary anywhere from yellow-green to grey. It is a slow-growing plant, having its most growth during the spring and fall. Typical size can reach approximately 3" in height. Looking like tiny shrubs, the tips of the branches are soft and willowy. When moist, the moss has a porous nature, but when water is scarce, it can become brittle, and the plant goes dormant. This dormancy can continue for a very long time. During rain, the moss absorbs water to maintain itself during those periods of drought.
Reindeer Lichen prefers sandy soil
Reindeer Moss is a lichen that does not have roots. Air and water are absorbed through the plant's surface. Because of this, it is a good predictor of pollution in the air. Scientists look to the moss to evaluate the environmental impact in surrounding areas. It prefers sandy soil.
You can find other varieties of Reindeer moss in the hot, arid regions of the south. Typically they are found in moist or arid areas, in sandy, well-drained soil low in nitrogen. Even in these harsh conditions, the lichen has a very long lifespan.
Reindeer Moss has a variety of uses. Primarily food for reindeer, moose, and caribou, hobbyists have found many uses for Reindeer Moss. You can purchase it in almost every hobby store, from being grown in terrariums, rock gardens to landscape covering for model railroad enthusiasts. The acid in the moss is sometimes used to produce litmus paper or as a natural dye in tweeds. When dried and ground, it is often sold as tea.