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Lichens and People: Uses, Benefits, and Potential Dangers

Updated on January 17, 2017
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Linda Crampton is a science teacher with an honors degree in biology. She loves to study nature and write about animals and plants.

Several types of lichens growing on a tree branch
Several types of lichens growing on a tree branch | Source

Interesting and Useful Organisms

Lichens are interesting organisms. They are an important part of nature and are often useful for humans. They provide us with dyes, scents for perfumes, and sometimes food. In the future, they may also provide us with antibiotics and sunscreen chemicals. Some species can withstand high levels of radiation. Others can be used as biological sensors that give us information about the environment.

Lichens have a wide variety of shapes and body forms. They also have many possible colours, including black, grey, white, green, blue-grey, yellow, orange, red, or brown. Despite their appearance, they aren't plants. Their body contains both a fungus and an alga. Each organism helps the other in some way, creating a beneficial partnership.

The word "lichens" is generally pronounced "likens". In some places it's pronounced as it's spelled, however, and rhymes with kitchens.

An orange crustose lichen growing on a rock on a beach
An orange crustose lichen growing on a rock on a beach | Source

What Are Lichens?

Lichens are beautiful and somewhat mysterious organisms that are classified into three main types, based on the form of their body, or thallus.

  • Foliose types have a leaf-like appearance.
  • Fruticose types have a highly branched form. They may be erect or hanging.
  • Crustose types look like a crust that has formed on a surface.

Intermediate and unusual forms of lichens exist. For example, scaly types look like a cross between a crustose form and a foliose form. Jelly lichens live in moist areas and have a gelatinous appearance when wet.

Unlike a plant, a lichen doesn't have roots, stems or leaves. It's attached to its substrate by filaments called rhizines or by a single, central extension of the thallus called a holdfast. Most of the water and nutrients that the thallus needs are absorbed from the surrounding air and raindrops instead of through the rhizines or holdfast.

Lichens are scientifically classified according to the fungus that they contain and are placed in the Fungi kingdom. The fungus is often said to be "lichenized" when it's combined with an alga.

Exploring Lichens in a Seattle Cemetery

Habitats, Substrates, and Ecology

Lichens are found in many different habitats, including temperate and tropical rainforests, deserts, mountains, the tundra, snowy and icy areas, and seashores. In addition, they grow on many different substrates, including apparently smooth ones. Possible substrates include:

  • wood and bark
  • rock
  • soil
  • concrete, metal, and glass
  • plastic
  • cloth and leather
  • shells of living animals
  • other lichens

Lichens perform useful functions in nature. They provide shelter for other organisms. They also provide food for animals and materials that they can use to build their homes or nests. When lichens grow on rocks, the chemicals that they release contribute to the slow process of rock breakdown and soil formation.

A foliose lichen growing in a cemetery
A foliose lichen growing in a cemetery | Source

Symbiosis

A lichen is an example of symbiosis—a relationship in which two organisms live in a close association. The alga in the partnership may be a green alga or an organism that used to be called a blue-green alga but is now known as a cyanobacterium. Occasionally both an alga and a cyanobacterium are present. The fungus nearly always belongs to a group known as the ascomycetes.

Like most other fungi, the fungal component of a lichen consists of branching, thread-like structures called hyphae. The algal cells are generally located in the middle of the lichen and are surrounded by hyphae. In jelly lichens the fungal hyphae and algal cells are mixed uniformly.

The algal cells make food for both themselves and the fungus. They contain chlorophyll, which absorbs sunlight. The alga uses the light energy to make carbohydrate from carbon dioxide and water. Fungi don't contain chlorophyll and can't produce their own food. The fungus in a lichen helps the alga by protecting it.

In 2016, scientists made a surprising discovery. They found that many lichens consist of a fungus, an alga or a cyanobacterium, and a yeast belonging to a group known as the basiodiomycetes. The presence of the yeast was unexpected. The researchers think that this organism makes chemicals that protect the lichen from microbes and predators.

Xanthoria elegans is also known as the elegant sunburst lichen. It's classified as a foliose type, although its centre often appears to be crustose.
Xanthoria elegans is also known as the elegant sunburst lichen. It's classified as a foliose type, although its centre often appears to be crustose. | Source

Dyes for Wool and Fabric

Many lichens are a grey colour when they're dry. When a lichen is moistened and absorbs water, however, the algal cells give it a deeper hue. The fungus component is often colourless, but in some cases it contains a pigment that gives the lichen a vivid color.

Making wool and fabric dyes from lichens is an ancient process that is still performed today. Suitable specimens are collected, cut into pieces and added to water. Ammonia is often added to the water. At one time urine was commonly used as the water-ammonia solution. The mixture is left for several weeks in order for the dye to appear.

The dye made from a lichen often has a different colour from the intact organism. Brown, gold, orange, green, purple, blue and red colours are all possible, depending on the species of lichen used and the type of extraction process.

Modern wool and fabric dyers often emphasize conservation as they collect lichens. They tend to gather specimens that have already become detached from their substrate or that are growing in a place from which they are likely to be removed, such as trees that have died. (Lichens don't harm trees.)

The red reproductive structures of the British soldiers lichen, or Cladonia cristatella; the lichen is growing in the company of mosses
The red reproductive structures of the British soldiers lichen, or Cladonia cristatella; the lichen is growing in the company of mosses | Source

British soldiers is a fruticose lichen found in Ontario and the northeastern part of the United States. The name is said to be derived from the red uniforms worn by British troops during the American revolution.

A Useful Dye and an Interesting Pigment

Litmus Paper

Litmus paper is very commonly used as an acid-base indicator, especially by students who need to know only the approximate pH of a substance. Litmus is a mixture of dyes extracted from specific lichens, especially Rosella tinctoria. Litmus paper is made from filter paper that has been treated with the dye. Neutral litmus paper is purple in color. It turns red when exposed to an acid and blue when exposed to a base (alkali).

Natural Sunscreens

Xanthoria parietina is a foliose lichen which contains a yellow pigment called parietin. This pigment absorbs ultraviolet radiation, acting as a sunscreen to protect the algal cells inside the lichen. Some other lichens contain sunscreens, too. It's been suggested that the protective chemicals could be useful in human sunscreens.

Xanthoria parietina is a foliose lichen that has a high resistance to pollution, especially in the form of nitrogen; the orange cup-like structures are apothecia and produce reproductive spores
Xanthoria parietina is a foliose lichen that has a high resistance to pollution, especially in the form of nitrogen; the orange cup-like structures are apothecia and produce reproductive spores | Source
Usnea often hangs from branches and is sometimes known as old man's beard. This is Usnea filipendula.
Usnea often hangs from branches and is sometimes known as old man's beard. This is Usnea filipendula. | Source

Antibiotics, Preservatives, and Toxins

Usnea

Usnic acid has been found in several lichen species, including members of the Usnea genus. In natural medicine Usnea is used as an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory substance. It's also used in some products as a preservative.

Tests in laboratory equipment and lab animals show that usnic acid has antimicrobial properties and kills bacteria, fungi and viruses. It also decreases inflammation and prevents some types of cancer cells from reproducing. Unfortunately, it may cause serious liver damage in humans. Clinical tests of the effectiveness of usnic acid in the human body are lacking.

Wolf Lichen

The wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) has a bright yellow-green colour and grows in Europe and western North America. It contains a yellow chemical called vulpinic acid, which is poisonous to mammals. In the past, wolf lichen mixed with ground glass and meat was used as a poison for wolves. It's unknown if the lichen or the glass was most responsible for the death of the animals.

Wolf lichen has also been used for dye extraction and was once used medicinally by native peoples. Lab research shows that vulpinic acid can kill certain kinds of bacteria. As in the case of usnic acid, if vulpinic acid is proven to be helpful for humans, we need to find a way to prevent the chemical from hurting us before we can use it as an antibiotic.

It's important to note that even though a chemical is antibacterial in isolated cells and in lab animals it may not have the same effect inside our body.

Letharia vulpina or wolf lichen
Letharia vulpina or wolf lichen | Source

Ingredients in Perfumes and Deodorants

Oakmoss

Oakmoss (Evernia prunastri) is used to provide scents and fixatives for perfumes. It grows in Europe and North America but is especially valued in France. It lives on oak trees as well as other trees and is a fruticose lichen, not a moss.

Both essential oils and absolutes are extracted from the oakmoss. Essential oils are usually obtained by steam distillation. Absolutes are obtained by solvent extraction and are generally more concentrated than essential oils. The extracts of oakmoss are said to have a lovely earthy scent that resembles the aroma of moss and has an undertone of pine.

Some oakmoss extracts advertise the fact that they are low in atranol. This chemical is allergenic for some people, so it's worth seeking products that have little or no atranol.

Pseudevernia furfuracea

Pseudevernia furfuracea is another fruticose lichen used in the perfume industry. The lichen was used to fill the body cavity of Ancient Egyptian mummies. It's not known if the lichen was used as a preservative or to provide a pleasant scent. Today lichen components are used in deodorants as well as perfumes because of their pleasing aroma.

Oakmoss is a lichen, despite its name.
Oakmoss is a lichen, despite its name. | Source

Lichens as Food for People

While we shouldn't pick up a lichen from a neighbourhood rock or tree and eat it, some species are eaten by humans. Many species are mildly toxic, a few are poisonous and most are indigestible in their raw form. Some cultures have learned to prepare lichens in a way that improves their digestibility, however, and even makes them a delicacy.

Reindeer moss, or Cladonia rangiferina, is a fruticose lichen that is a staple food of reindeer and caribou. (This is yet another "moss" that is really a lichen.) Some Arctic inhabitants mix the partly digested lichen from caribou stomachs with raw fish eggs. The result is a concoction known as "stomach ice cream".

Umbilicaria esculenta is a black foliose lichen that grows on rocks. It's used in Asian cuisine after being fried. Umbilicaria lichens are often knows as rock tripe. The North American version was used as an emergency food by early explorers.

Some lichens are boiled and mixed with fruit and flavouring agents such as onions before being eaten. With a few exceptions, however, lichens are generally used as food in famine situations instead of by choice.

Reindeer moss grows on the ground. It forms patches that often resemble foam or a sponge when viewed from a distance.
Reindeer moss grows on the ground. It forms patches that often resemble foam or a sponge when viewed from a distance. | Source

A bioindicator is a species that indicates the health of the environment via its presence, function or behaviour. Lichens can act as bioindicators.

Pollution and Dehydration

Some lichens are very tolerant to pollutants such as nitrogen and sulphur compounds, while others are very sensitive to the presence of one or both of these chemicals. People who can identify lichens can learn about local environmental conditions by observing which species are present. The species act as bioindicators.

Lichens have a high resistance to damage by dehydration and the ability to quickly absorb a large quantity of water after dehydration ends. This property has enabled them to be used as wound dressings and diapers by people in the past. The organisms stop photosynthesizing when they dry out and start producing food again as they absorb water.

A Lichen Survey in London, England

Radiation Exposure

Lichens absorb and store radioactive substances, such as cesium and strontium compounds, without apparent harm. Their thalli can be tested for the presence of radioactive compounds in order to learn about their environment.

At least some species of lichen are very resistant to dangerous radiation. In a 2005 experiment, two species spent sixteen days in space inside an orbiting satellite. Here they were exposed to "massive" doses of ultraviolet and cosmic radiation. When they returned to Earth they had nearly the same photosynthetic ability as before the flight. In addition, most of the lichens' cells had no observable damage when examined under high magnification.

An interesting tree trunk covered with fruticose and foliose lichens as well as moss
An interesting tree trunk covered with fruticose and foliose lichens as well as moss | Source

Searching for Lichens

Just about any walk that I take ends up as a nature walk. Looking for lichens and photographing them is an enjoyable part of my journey. They are sometimes very obvious, as in the photo above. Others may be overlooked by someone who doesn't pause to look at tree bark, twigs and rocks. The smaller parts of nature often live on these surfaces.

It's fun to examine lichens and other creatures with or without a magnifying glass. It's also interesting to think about the ways in which they are used by humans and the possible ways in which they may help us in the future.

References

© 2014 Linda Crampton

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always informative....always useful....always valuable. Thank you for the continuing education my friend.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the lovely comment, Bill. I always appreciate your visits and support!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Wow. I savored every word of this fascinating article. I had no idea lichens were used in making litmus paper ... Nor that they had so many other practical uses and potentials. It's amazing how very complex such seemingly simple organisms can be. Love this sort of information!

      Best -- MJ

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Fascinating hub as always! I am glad you included how to pronounce these organisms. I have seen these on tree banks, but had no clue as to what they were, but now I do and will keep my eyes open to spot them. That photo of yours is awesome too.

      Up and more and sharing

      Happy New Year,

      Faith Reaper

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the kind comment, MJ! I hope that 2014 is a great year for you.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank for very much, Faith. I appreciate your votes and share, as always. Happy New Year!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Fantastic article Alicia! I added a link from this hub to mine titled Pictures of Mushrooms and Fungus - Wild Ones! UUI votes. Happy New Year!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment, the link and the votes, Peggy! Happy New Year to you, too, and best wishes for an excellent 2014!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Alicia, this is a very comprehensive guide to lichens. I knew very little about them before, except they were related to fungi, so you taught me a lot. Never realised they had so many uses. Voted up.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Jodah! I appreciate the comment and the vote very much. It is interesting that lichens have so many present and potential uses.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another very interesting and useful hub by you again Alicia.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 3 years ago from West Palm Beach

      I just want to find a perfume with Oakmoss. Sounds exotic. Great article!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, Eddy. I hope you have a great day, too!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, the scent does sound exotic! I'd like to try it, too. Thanks for the comment, EGamboa.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This is very interesting. I never thought something so simple could be so complicated! Well done. Up and shared.

      JSMatthew~

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the visit, JSMatthew. I appreciate your comment and vote, as well as the share!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Linda. What an interesting and informative read. Great job. Exceptionally well written. My education continues. Voted up and shared. Happy New Year

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I always learn so much from your hubs Alicia. Thanks for all the great information on lichens and the really interesting photos

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, Bill! I appreciate it very much. Thanks for the vote and the share, too. Happy New Year!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Cynthia. I always appreciate your visits and kind comments!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Lichens make a wonderful dye for silks and wools--Loved your article!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      Great article. They probably do have some good medicinal uses, probably ones we don't even know about. Voted up and pinned.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment and for sharing your experience, Audrey!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, ologsinquito. I agree - lichens probably have medicinal benefits that we are unaware of. It's important that we don't destroy them! Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the pin.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Fascinating article on lichens! It is amazing how they are used in products.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Dianna. It is very interesting that lichens can be used in so many ways. They are useful organisms.

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Fascinating subject. Who would have thought lichens were so interesting. Great hub!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Sue. I think that lichens are fascinating, too! I appreciate your visit.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Lichens are utterly amazing. I never realized that they had so many god and very important uses. When I walked in the woods back home in Maine, they were everywhere.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Deb. Yes, lichens are amazing! They are very common in British Columbia, too. I enjoy observing them.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Brilliantly put together and now I know so much more about this topic. I have seen Lichens and just did not bother much about it until I read this hub. Voted up, useful, and a very helpful hub indeed.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the kind comment and the votes, DDE!

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      You have so much great info here. Some of your photos make lichens look pretty.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the comment, WriterJanis. I think that many lichens look pretty. They are interesting organisms, too.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting. I have just written an article about Usnea Lichen which is killing the trees in my garden.

      So I'm not happy with it camping in my garden, it is a eyesore and makes my garden very untidy with dying tree.

      Happy New Year to you, hope 2015 is a perfect year for you.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, Elsie. I'm sorry about the problem that you're having with lichens. I'll read your hub very soon. Thanks for such a lovely new year's wish. I hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you, too!

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      khan 22 months ago

      i saw in a video lichen is used for dying hair,

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      ammara salman 21 months ago

      Awsome article. Helped me alot

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      That's interesting, khan. I haven't heard of that use before.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, ammara. I'm glad the article helped you.

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      Student101 17 months ago

      can you share your reference for this one??? I just need for my research pleasee @AliciaC

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Student101. There are references in the blue boxes in this article, although I may change the colour and position of the boxes when I do my next edit of the article. The general information about lichens comes from my education and knowledge as a biology teacher. Good luck with your research.

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      Oztinato 14 months ago

      I'm really liken your hub on lichen. Very interesting and informative.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 14 months ago from the short journey

      How amazing that lowly lichens have so many uses to make us like 'em! ;) Seriously, though, as technology allows us to unfold the intricacies of nature's details we continue to learn that we have much to learn about what creation has to say to us. This hub has reminded me that the earth was designed to rejuvenate itself (but that does not mean we are not to be good stewards!). Coming across these in the wild would make the average person dismiss them but that is a lesson that falls in the importance of not doing so. Thanks for a neat read and congrats on your Hub of the Day award.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the comment, Oztinato! I appreciate your visit.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the interesting comment and the congrats, RTalloni. I think it's important that we don't dismiss lichens, too. They are an important part of nature.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 14 months ago from the short journey

      Interesting, yes--lesson in not switching thoughts in the middle of a sentence. :) Always enjoy your work.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks again, RTalloni!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 14 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Linda, congrats on another HOTD! This is so fascinating and amusing to know about the facts on lichens. I remember when I lived in NJ, there was lichen on one of the trees. I remember it was a greyish color like in the photo. I haven't seen any here since I lived in Ohio for 16 years now. Kudos!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the congrats, Kristen! I'd miss seeing lichens if they disappeared from my neighbourhood. I enjoy observing and studying them.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 14 months ago from Chicago Area

      I think the most interesting is the natural sunscreen aspect. Another informative hub deserving of the Hub of the Day it just received. Congrats and have a great weekend!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Heidi. I appreciate your comment and congratulations very much. I hope you have a great weekend, too!

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      Earl 9 months ago

      Wow! this is the best and the most helpful article about lichen.....

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Earl.

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      edgardo 9 months ago

      hi ma'am.... can i ask question? what is other harmful effects of lichen?

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, edgardo. Lichens seem to be generally harmless or helpful to humans, but there are some potentially harmful aspects to them. In addition to the problems I've mentioned above, researchers have found that some lichens produce chemicals called microcystins that can damage the liver.

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      Diane 5 months ago

      Is there danger in handling certain lichen, either transferring onto fingers or breathing in harmful components of disturbed lichen?

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      As far as I know, the answer to your question is no. You should contact a lichenologist for confirmation, however. That being said, I always wash my hands after time spent handling soil, decaying bark or similar substrates because they may contain harmful microbes. In addition, I wear a mask if I handle anything that's releasing particulate matter into the air because the particles may be harmful to the lungs.

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      venetianev 4 months ago

      This is fascinating and very inspiring! I am an artist from England, working with mainly organic materials and have recently been using algae powders in paintings. Would love to access some lichen powder or dyes and wonder if you could recommend a good source. Or it would be wonderful some day to make my own powder .

      Thank you so much for sharing your riveting information about lichen and particularly for putting it in a way that is so easy to understand,

      Thank you for your help.

      Venetia

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Venetia. Thank you very much for the comment. I'm afraid that I don't know of any source of prepared lichen powders or dyes. People who want to use the dye make it themselves, as far as I know. Good luck with your use of lichens in art.

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      aqsa arshad 4 months ago

      amazing this helped me alot in making my assignment

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you. I'm glad that the article was helpful.

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      Kohl 3 months ago

      Hay thank you so much for the post :D I've really wanted to get into studying lichen

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I think you'll find lichens interesting to study. I do!

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      Louise Svadeba 3 months ago

      I have been diagnosed with lichens paleous. It lives directly under my skin and some go deeep into my body. They look like a spreading out of little "road maps" and NOTHING I HAVE TRIED WILL KILL THESE, NOR THE ONES THAT GO DEEEP. After the biopsy,. That I thought went extremely deep, the lichen began and is still coming to the surface, it now itches. None of them have ever itched, much, unless I tried to remove them, with the MANY VARIOUS CREAMS THAT MY Dr. Prescribed, the last being​, forgive my spelling, Perythrian, topical cream. It seems to have done the MOST to rid myself of them.

      There seems to be a 'pattern' to some of them, such as VERY near perfect circle of dots about this size : O, maybe bigger, some smaller, but they all have a bit bigger one in the center. When IT (the center one) itches and dies, the other ones sink into my skin and it seems as my body does away with it. They DO LEAVE A very slight indentation ,however that reminds me that it was there.?!? So very very odd!!

      Oh, yes, and BLEED!! WOW ! they bleed ALOT , but for only a minute or so and that's it. That was when I was trying diligently to remove them, they are quite UGLY, you know!! But, anyway HOW ON EARTH DID THEY GET INTO ME AND HOW DO I KILL THEM...ALL??? ALSO I HAVE HAD THEM FOR (Here is the kicker...40 years!!!!) No DR. Until now has admitted to even seeing them under my skin!!.. CAN YOU HELP ME? OR KNOW WHO CAN...FYI ...They are on my extremities, and a little on my face. Even under my toes and my breasts and decoulage(upper chest) in case I spelled it wrong. ????? Please RSVP and ASAP... THANKS AGAIN, LOUISE SVADEBA

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Louise, I'm sorry that you're having so many problems and that you've had them for such a long time, but my article has nothing to do with lichen planus. Lichens are organisms that live in the environment, not on or in the human body. I can understand why you're confused because the names are so similar, but lichen planus is thought to be an autoimmune disease, not an infection. I'm not a doctor and can't offer you any advice about your condition. From what I've read, though, dermatologists often deal with the disorder. Perhaps your doctor can recommend one, or maybe a different doctor can help you. I hope you find someone that can improve your condition.

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      RAMAKRISHNA 5 weeks ago

      Thanks you lot giving information about lichen

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for commenting.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Vikas.

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