Nature Detective: What is this moss hanging from the tree? It is not Spanish Moss. It's Old Man's Beard (Usnea)

The pale green lichen in the Usnea "ooze-ne-a" familyalso known as Old Man’s Beard, can easily be spied hanging in tree branches around the Adirondacks. I

Its green lacy tuffs remind me of the Lorax and the Truffula trees and as Dr. Seuss says, "Truffula trees are what everyone needs."

 Did you know?
lichens are not really plants but a blending of two separate organisms: fungus and algae.
• It is commonly known as a tree moss or beard moss. 
• It is sometimes confused with Spanish moss, which is not found in the Adirondacks.
• Usnea was used a respiratory antibiotic since 1600 B.C  
• Important in ancient Greek and Chinese medicine
• Has anti-microbial properties so can be directly applied to an open wound to stave off infection. 
• Make a tea or tincture out of it to treat lung infections. 
• Has been used to combat tuberculosis in studies.
Identify
•A white, stretchy, thin cord can be found when you pull the Old Man's Beard gently apart.
© Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities™ guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time™, which is available online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the third guidebook in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities™.

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