Reindeer moss/lichen (Cladonia rangiferina)

Reindeer MossReindeer moss (also known as Reindeer Lichen or Caribou Moss) is a light-colored, low-growing plant only a few centimeters tall. It grows very slowly at a rate of only a few millimeters per year.  Reindeer Moss has many branches with each branch dividing into 3-4 additional branches.  Branches and leaves are grayish, whitish, or brownish gray.  It does not flower but does produce bright red reproductive structures.

Where to Find: Close-up view of Reindeer MossLook for this lichen in open, dry areas. It is very common in much of North America and grows in both hot and cold climates.

Edible Parts: The entire plant is edible but has a crunchy, brittle texture. Soak the plant in water with some added wood ashes to remove the bitterness; then dry, crush, and add it to milk or to other food.  You can also crush the plant and then boil or soak in water until it softens.  Then eat it as is or mix with berries or other food.

Some tribes use Reindeer Moss as a remedy for the removal of kidney stones.

Reindeer Moss

Reindeer Moss

Reindeer Moss branches and leaves

Reindeer Moss occasionally has red reproductive structures but technically are not flowers

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