Iceland moss

Cetraria islandica

Photo by Jan W. Ahlfors

Estonians also call it moose’s moss, Icelandic lichen, lung lichen, etc. The plant is common in Estonia. It grows in sandy pine groves, in forests with a lot of sunlight, and on sand dunes.

It belongs in the bush-lichen family and grows up to 5–15 cm in height. Its thallus is leafy, upright, or ascending. On top, it is brown, olive green, or greyish-green, often with blood-red spots; from below, it is light grey. Its lobes are curved upright in a pipe-like manner; its edges bear the fruiting body with spores. Iceland moss reproduces with spores or vegetatively.

The part that is on the ground is used as an herb. It is gathered manually in the summer; the plant is cleaned from dirt and trash; and dried in sunlight or in a drier. Iceland moss preparations are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, laxative, calming, and wound-healing properties.