Lichens as dye

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This is an essay on ethnolichenology. To return to the main page click here.

Lichens are frequently used as dyes. The lichen dye can be extracted by boiling the lichen in water or by fermenting the lichen in ammonia. Traditionally urine was often used as an ammonia source, and the lichen would be fermented for at least 2 to 3 weeks. There is no record of the ammonia fermentation method being used in North America. It seems to be restricted to Europe. Table 3 gives a short summary of lichen dye use. This is an incomplete list. For more complete information on the subject, refer to Brough (1984, 1988), Casselman (1999), and Kok (1966).

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