Sunday, May 22, 2016

Old man's beard

As children, my brother and I stuck this hairy lichen on our faces as "beards."

When we couldn't find the black variety, we used the green stuff. It's official name is Usnea. The common name is Old Man's Beard.

At the time, we were unaware that lichen had medicinal properties. According to Tara Rose, the lichen usnea, really a "marriage" of fungus and algae, has been valued as a healing plant for three millenia.

It was used in ancient Greece, Egypt and China to treat infections. A natural gauze for covering a wound, it has anti-microbial properties that help stave off infection. Some claims have been made for its efficacy as an anti-parasitic as well.

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