- Reindeer Moss- Cladonia Rangifernia Hardy Planting Zones- 3-8 Sun or Shade- Sun/Part Sun Mature Height- 1"-4" Mature Width- 4"-12" Bloom Season- Year Round Gardener Status- Beginner
Reindeer Moss - Cladonia rangiferina
A native plant of the Arctic alpine tundra, Reindeer Moss also known as Reindeer Lichen is a fruticose lichen plant - a coral like bushy plant. It’s simply a combination of fungi and algae sharing a symbiotic relationship. The combination of the two exists and grows without roots from humidity and moisture. It primarily grows in moist, frigid cold areas but also can be found in well-drained hot regions including Florida and Texas. Lichens (Reindeer Moss) can easily survive long droughts. It dries out and goes dormant until water is provided. Then it replenishes itself and begins to grow again even after very long periods of dry spells. Even though it isn’t a moss as its name implies, it’s the primary food source for reindeer, caribou, moose and oxen. Since most plants won’t survive in the cold tundra, Reindeer Moss thrives. It provides the much need carbohydrates and nutrients that deer require. Due to its appealing fragrance, the reindeer and others must dig deep to find it under the snow and ice. It grows on rocks and ground and looks like a green, gray spongy mass. However, it’s very slow growing at 1-3 inches per year and takes years to replenish. Other uses of Reindeer Moose/lichen include food used by some of the European countries. They boil and use it in soups. Some use it for medicinal purposes as well. Another interesting use is the preserved Reindeer Moose used as a decorative element. It’s used in glass containers, decoration in terrarium and also used in potted plants on top soil helping to maintain moisture. Despite its name, reindeer moss is a lichen. Lichens are known for their ability to survive in extreme environments, including the Arctic. Because of its incredible hardiness, lichen will have no trouble thriving in your home or yard. Its compact size makes reindeer moss a perfect addition to a window box or terrarium. It also makes an appealing ornamental addition to any outdoor garden.