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Cabrera 1996

Cabrera, C. (1996). "Medicinal plants of the Pacific North West." The European Journal of Herbal Medicine 2(2): 11-19.

Materia Medica on Usnea spp., as well as 4 other common plants.

Reviews medicinal uses of Usnea hirta, U. barbata, U. florida, and U. longissima. Traditional uses, harvesting, preparation, and chemical constituents briefly reviewed

Carlson and Flett 1989

Carlson, B. F. and P. Flett (1989). "Spokane Dictionary." Occasional Papers in Linguistics (Unversity of Montana) 6.

Letharia vulpina s-c-kwr-n=ecst


Black tree lichen




Moss (yellow green tree) mtr7=alqw

Rock moss (Selaginella wallacei hieron): c-qwsqws-p=essn

Ground moss: n-qwspws-p=ule7xw

Casselman 1999

Casselman, K. D. (1999). Lichen dyes & dyeing: A critical bibliography of European and North American literature in a culturally marginalized field, St. Mary's University.

Chamberlain 1892

Chamberlain, A. F. (1892). Report on the Kootenay Indians of Southeastern British Columbia. Eighth Report on the Northwestern Tribes of Canada, British Association for the Advancement of Science, Edinbergh Meeting.

Chamberlain 1901

Chamberlain, L. S. (1901). "Plants used by the Indians of eastern North America." The American Naturalist 35: 1-10.

The Huron boiled Tripe de roche (Umbilicaria) and used it as food (Radisson 1885: pg 142, cited in Chamberlain 1901)

Chandra and Singh 1971

Chandra, S. and A. Singh (1971). "A crude lichen drug (chharila) from India." Journal of Research in Indian Medicine 6: 209-215.

Chharila is a lichen crude drug sold in Indian bazars and used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine. Three lichens are called this: Parmelia perlata, Parmelia perforata, and Parmelia cirrhata. Parmelia cirrhata has been known to Mohemmadans for centuries. It is used as a carminative and aphrodesiac. The smoke of chharila is believed to relieve headaches. When powdered it is applied on wounds, and considered to be a good cephalic snuff. It has also been considered useful in dyspepsia, spermatorrhoea, amonorrhoea, calculi, diseases of the blood and heart, stomach disorders, enlarged spleen, bronchitis, bleeding piles, scabies, leprosy, excessive salivation, soreness of the throat, toothache, and pain in general. Parmelia perlata contains atranorin and lecanolric acid, Parmelia perforata contains azeorin, atranorin, and lecanolric acid, and Parmelia cirrhata contains atranorin and protolichestric acid. The drug when analysed only contained Parmelia cirrhata and Parmelia perforata. And about 50% of it was other lichens, perhaps just adulterants, Leptogium spp., Parmelia hyporysalea, Ramalina spp., Usnea spp., and Anaptychia spp.

Chesnut 1902

Chesnut, V. K. (1902). Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium Vol. VII. Systematic and Geographic Botany, and Aboriginal Uses of Plants. Washington, Government Printing Office. 7: 295-408.

Christensen and Sipman 1998

Christensen, S. N. and H. J. M. Sipman (1998). "Silver moss - ornamental lichens from Brazil." British Lichen Society Bulletin 82: 11-13.

Cocchietto et al. 2002

Cocchietto, M., N. Skert, P. L. Nimis and G. Sava (2002). "A review on usnic acid, an interesting natural compound." Naturwissenschaften 89(4): 137-146.


Compton 1993

Compton, B. D. (1993). Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian Ethnobotany: The Knowledge and Usage of Plants and Fungi among the Oweekeno, Hanaksiala (Kitlope and Kemano), Haisla (Kitamaat) and Kitasoo Peoples of the Central and North Coasts of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC, University of British Columbia. PhD thesis.

Coppins and Watling 1994

Coppins, B. J. and R. Watling (1994). "Lichenized and non-lichenized fungi: Folklore and fact." Botanical Journal of Scotland 47(2): 249-261.

Correche et al. 2002

Correche, E., M. Carrasco, F. Giannini, M. Piovano, J. Garbarino and D. Enriz (2002). "Cytotoxic screening activity of secondary lichen metabolites." Acta Farmaceutica Bonaerense 21(4): 273-278.

Coville 1897

Coville, F. V. (1897). "Notes on the plants used by the Klamath Indians of Oregon." United States Department of Agriculture. Division of Botany. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 5(2): 87-106.

Page 87-88


Alectoria fremontii Tuckerm.

A lichen consisting of slender black threads hanging in masses often a foot in length from the branches of trees in the pine forests, particularly abundant on the black or lodge-pole pine, Pinus murrayana. The plant was sometimes used in former years as a famine food. To the present white inhabitants of the region it is commonly known as "black moss."

Evernia vulpina (L.) Ach.

Shwa´-wi-säm. A bright yellow lichen, often called "yellow moss," which grows in abundance on the trunks of yellow pine and other trees. Porcupine quills obtained from the Modocs are immersed in a decoction of this lichen and take on a beautiful bright yellow permanent stain. These quills are then interwoven into baskets to form any yellow pattern desired.

Crittenden and Porter 1991

Crittenden, P. D. and N. Porter (1991). "Lichen forming fungi: Potential sources of novel metabolites." Trends in Biotechnology 9: 409-414.

Crum 1993

Crum, H. (1993). "A lichenologist's view of lichen manna." Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium 19: 293-306.

It is unlikely that a lichen supported all of the children of Israel for 40 years, as suggested in the books of Exodus and Numbers, but a lichen may have been where the idea of manna from heaven came from. Manna is described as a small, round thing, as small as hoar frost on the ground, resembling coriander seed and white. It was baked to be eaten.

A tradition in eastern Persia that Alexander’s army, in 330-327 BC, was saved from starvation by eating Aspicilia esculata. The lichen can break loose from its substrate and blow around. In violent wind storms it can acumulate suddenly and in great quantity. Large lichen falls were recorded in central Turkey, Armenia, and northern Persia in 1824, 1828, 1829, 1846, and 1890. These falls sometimes occurred during famines and were appreciated as a famine food.

It was mentioned as an ingredient to make wine and medicinal compounds in Arabic writing in the 9th to thirteenth centuries. Mixed with flour and made into bread in steppes of southern USSR. Uncommonly used in N America as ingredient of bread, eaten raw, or parched with or without oil. Used by some in Libya as famine food during WWII.

Often used by Libyan shepards to graze their sheep on. Especially in times of drought. Call it torba, may erect cairns so they can locate good lichen patches, sometimes harvest the lichen and bring it back to their sheep. The Bedouin sheep herders raise goats and sheep on the lichen, which they call trub. They claim that all a sheep needs is trub and water.

Nutrient analysis show 23% starch and 66% calcium oxalate, or 11% starch and 60% calcium oxalate. Mostly lichenin, no isolichenin. Not really any secondary compounds. Probably secretes oxalic acid from hyphae, causing calcium oxalate to form as an insoluble extracellular deposit.

lichenin is dissolvable in hot water, isolichenin in cold water.

Lichen been reported to accumulate up to 20 or 30 cm high, but generally evenly and sparcely distributed.

In Cyrenaica in the 11th century it was collected and fermented with honey as a drink.

Other species of Aspicilia that are reffered to as Aspicilia esculenta that grow in the same areas are Aspicilia jussufii, Aspicilia vagans, and Aspicilia fruticulosa.

Curtin 1949

Curtin, L. S. M. (1949). By the Prophet of the Earth: Ethnobotany of the Pima. Tucson, Arizona, University of Arizona Press.

Cutright 1969

Cutright, P. R. (1969). Lewis and Clark: Pioneering Naturalists. Urbana, University of Illinois Press.

Darias et al. 1986

Darias, V., L. Bravo, E. Barquín, D. Martin Herrera and C. Fraile (1986). "Contribution to the ethnopharmacological study of the Canary Islands." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 15: 169-193.

Roccella canariensis, Roccella vilentina, Roccella tuberculata all called Orchilla. Roccella fuciformis called Alican or Jaican. Thallus used for purple dye. Very important commercially, places are named Orchilla, and the islands themselves were sometimes called Islas Purpurarias.

Usnea atlantica and Usnea spp. were called barbas, thallus used as disinfectant.

Darias et al. 1993

Darias, V., L. Bravo, C. C. Sánchez-Mateo and E. Barquín (1993). "Study of the tinctorial species of flora of the Canary Islands." Acta Horticulturae 333: 283-285.

Roccella canariensis, Roccella vilentina, Roccella tuberculata all called Orchilla. Roccella fuciformis called Alican or Jaican. Important from 15th – 17th century.

Davis and Yost 1983

Davis, E. W. and J. A. Yost (1983). "Novel hallucinogens from eastern Ecuador." Botanical Museum Leaflets [Harvard University] 29(3): 291-295.

The Waorani of eastern Ecuador use a lichen as a hallucinigen in shamanistic rituals. In Waorani custum, the shaman, or ido, takes hallucingenic drugs in order to call on wenae (malevolant spirits) to curse someone else. Only he can lift the curse. Two hallucingens are used, one made from the plant mii (Banisteriopsis muricata) and one from this lichen.

The lichen is extremely rare. It is an undiscribed species of Dictyomena with a white hymenial layer and a bright green/blue upper surface. The Waorani call it ne/ne/ndape/ (the slash is through the e) (a name which is also applied to some other fungi). To make the drug for casting curses it is put into an infusion with various other bryophytes to make a drug called kigiwai, and causes headaches and extreme confusion when drank. It was last used like this around 1900. Ne/ne/ndape/ also is reported to cause sterility and may be put into a child’s drink to make her barren.

Dawson 1891

Dawson, G. M. (1891). "Notes on the Shuswap People of British Columbia." Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Section 2 Part I: 3-44.

Lichen summary: An account from Mr. J. M. Macoun: Bryoria fremontii collected of Larix occidentalis, and thoroughly washed. Hole 10 feet square and 2 feet deep dug. Light large fire in bottom, put rocks on top, and let burn down for several hours. Cover rocks with sand, then with 1 foot of maple and alder boughs, then skunk cabbage, then sheets of tamarack bark. Food place on top of this, several bark baskets full of bulbs, and several bundles of Bryoria fremontii that had bulbs piled on top of them. All covered with boughs and leaves, then bark, and then a few inches of sand. Large fire then lit on top and allowed to burn all night. Allowed to cool for a day and then dug up. The bulbs mixed with “lichen would have united with it to form a solid substance resembling black plug tobacco in colour and consistency, which could be broken up and kept sweet for a long time."

Called wi-luh by the Secwepemc, and wi-uh by the Nlaka’pmx. Abundant in higher areas. Collected by women, twigs and bark removed, then washed in water. Surrounded by leaves, etc., placed in a hole in the ground and a fire is made above it. The roasting continues for a night, after which it comes out as a flat black mass, which is eaten and said to taste very sweet. The lichen may be gathered at any season

Also eaten by the Tsilhqot’in. (uses name Tinneh, which is also a more general name referring to the entire Athapaskan language group. In this sense of the word, the Dakehl would be most likely. However, elsewhere in report says that Tinneh = Tsilhqot’in.

Letharia vulpina called ta-kwul-a-muk'oo by the Secwepemc. Abundant above 3000 feet, boiled in water for dye for hair and cloth.

Ethnobotany starts page 17.

Excerpt from page 18-19:

The following excellent description of the mode of cooking the camass in this district is given by Mr. J. M. Macoun. It will serve equally to explain the process of cooking roots of other kinds: --

"The bulbs were collected by the Indians before the seed was fully matured, at which time they considered them at teir best. The party I speak of had between twenty and twenty-five bushels of them at the lowest estimate. For two or three days before cooking was begun, the women of the party were engaged in cutting and carrying to camp branches of the alder and maple (Alnus rubra and Acer glabrum). Several bundels of the broad leaves of Lysichitun Kamtschatcense (skunk-cabbage), and two or three of Alectoria jubata), the black hair-like lichen that grows in profusion on Larix occidentalis, had been brought with them.

"Everything being ready, the men of the party cut down a huge pine for no other object, apparently, than to obtain its smaller branches, as no other portion of it was used. A hole about ten feet square and two deep was then dug in a gravelly bank near the lake shore, which was filled with broken pine branches. Upon these were piled several cords of dry cedar and pine, and this was covered over with small boulders. The pile was then lighted in several places, and left for some hours to take care of itself. When the Indians returned to it the stones lay glowing among a mass of embers. The few unburnt pieces of wood which remained near the edges were raked away, and the women with wooden spades banked up the sides of the pile with sand, throwing enough of it over the stones to fill up every little crevice through which a tongue of flame might be thrust up from the coals that still burned beneath the stones. Then the whole was covered with the maple and alder boughs to the depth of a foot or more after they had been well trampled down. Over these were placed the wide leaves of the skunk-cabbage until every cranny was closed. Sheets of tamarac-bark were then spread over the steaming green mass, and upon these the bulbs were placed. About half of them were in bark baskets closed at the mouth, and each holding about a bushel and a half. These were carried to the centre of the pile. The lichen of which I have spoken was then laid over the unoccupied bark, having been well washed first, and over it were strewn the bulbs that remained. The whole was then covered with boughs and leaves as before and roofed with sheets of bark. Upon this three or four inches of sand was thrown, and over all was heaped the material for another fire, larger even that the first one. When this was lighted the sun was just setting, and it continued to burn all night.

"The next morning our camp was moved away, and I was unable to see the results of the day's labour. I was told, however, by one of the Indians who could speak a little English, that their oven would be allowed a day in which to cool, and that when opened the bulbs in the baskets would hace 'dissolved to flour,' from which bread could be made, while those mixed with the lichen would have united with it to form a solid substance resembling black plug tobacco in colour and consistency, which could be broken up and kept sweet for a long time."

Excerpt from page 20-21

The black hair-like lichen (Alectoria jubata), which grows abundantly on the higher plateaux and mountains upon trees in thick woods, is eaten by the Shuswap people as by the Tinneh to the north. It is called wi-luh by the Shoo-wha'-pa-mooh, and wi-uh by the N-tla-ka-pe-mooh. Having been collected by the women, it is first freed from twigs and bark and washed in water. Then, surrounded by leaves, etc. it is placed in a hole in the ground and a fire is made above it. The roasting continues for a night, after which it comes out as a flat black mass, which is eaten and said to taste very sweet. The lichen may be gathered at any season.

The yellow lichen (Evernia vulpina), generally found in abundance on the trees at elevations exceeding 3,000 feet above the sea in the southern interior of British Columbia, was formerly used as a dye-stuff for hair, cloth, etc. It was boiled in water to extract the colouring matter, and is named ta-kwul-a-muk'oo by the Shoo-wha-pa-mooh.

A black dye is said to be obtained from the root of a fern which grows in damp places (either Asplenium felix-faemina or Aspidium munilum).

Tinneh = either specifically Tsilhqot'in or generally the Athapaskan language group

de Smet 1847

de Smet, P. J. (1847). Oregon missions and travels over the Rocky Mountains in 1845-46. New York.

Diachkov and Kursanov 1945

Diachkov, N. H. and A. R. Kursanov (1945). "The carbohydrate composition of lichens of the Kola Peninula considered with the problem of glucose production in northern localities." Comptes Rendus (Doklady) de l'Académic des Sciences de l'URSS 46(2): 66-68.

The lichens Cetraria islandica, Cetraria nivalis, Alectoria ochroleuca, Cladina alpestris, Cladina mitis, Cladonia deformis, Peltigera, and Stereocaulon paschale are analyzed for using to make molasses in the Kola peninsula in Russia.

Dikhtyarenko et al. 2001

Dikhtyarenko, V. V., M. Y. Safonova, V. V. Safonov, E. E. Lesiovskaya and E. I. Sakanyan (2001). "The influence of Cetraria islandica (L.) Ach. thalli and Caragana spinosa (L.) Vahl ex Hornem. annal shoots dry extracts on the development of experimental stomach ulcer in rats." Rastitel 'nye Resursy 37(2): 51-56.

In Russian with English summary Dry extracts of Cetraria islandica and Caragana spinosa annual shoots showed antiulcer effect on different stomach damages in the experiments on rats.

Drummond 1861

Drummond, A. T. (1861). "On the economical uses of Sticta pulmonaria Hoffm." Annals of the Botanical Society of Canada 1: 81-84.

Duff 1952

Duff, W. (1952). The Upper Stalo Indians of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. Victoria, BC, Anthropology in British Columbia, Memoir No. 1, British Columbia Provincial Museum.

Dumbeck 1945

Dumbeck, I. (1945). Unpublished word lists. Originals held by Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus, Gonzaga University, Spokane (microfilm copy available in B. C. Provincial Archives, Victoria). Cited in Turner et al. 1980.

Eidlitz 1969

Eidlitz, K. (1969). Food and Emergency Food in the Circumpolar Area. Uppsala, Sweden, Almqvist & Wiksells Boktryckert AB.

Ellis et al. 1933

Ellis, N. R., L. J. Palmer and G. L. Barnum (1933). "The vitamin content of lichens." Journal of Nutrition 6(5): 334-454.

Found vitamin A and vitamin D. Failed to record Vitamin B in feeding experiments, but Lal shows considerable riboflavin.

Elmendorf 1935-1936

Elmendorf, W. W. (1935–1936). Lakes Salish Ethnographic Notes. Unpublished Field Notes, original held by Dr. W. W. Elmendorf, Department of Anthropology, The University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc. (photoduplicated copy in British Columbia Indian Language Project files, Victoria). Cited in Turner et al. 1980.

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