Reindeer Moss - Cladonia rangiferina
Despite its name, reindeer moss is actually 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.
Reindeer moss is made up of intricately laced gray and white branches. It grows in large clusters that, when spread out over the surface of a rock, bear a pleasing resemblance to snow or frost. The lichen can reach a height of four inches, and will spread out indefinitely over time. However, thanks to its relatively slow growth rate (3-5mm per year) there is no need to worry about reindeer moss taking over your garden.
Like most lichens, reindeer moss grows best on rocks. It can also be cultivated on tree trunks or in sandy soil. Reindeer moss can grow in any climate, but in areas with low humidity it will benefit from occasional misting with a spray bottle. No matter where you choose to plant, be sure to keep reindeer moss in the shade. Once established, it needs minimal attention. Simply water occasionally and protect from animals if planted outside.
Reindeer moss has medicinal and culinary purposes for indigenous cultures in Alaska and the Himalayas, who use it to treat stomach ailments. It is also very popular among hobbyists who create decorative terrariums, who incorporate both live and preserved specimens in their displays.
This decorative lichen adds visual appeal wherever it is planted. Use reindeer moss as an attractive ornamental border for your garden, or include it in indoor plantings to bring a touch of nature into your home.