Cladonia rangiferina

Cladonia rangiferina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Lecanoromycetes
Order: Lecanorales
Family: Cladoniaceae
Genus: Cladonia
Species: C. rangiferina
Binomial name
Cladonia rangiferina
(L.) Weber ex F.H. Wigg. (1780)
Top view of C. rangiferina
The underside of C. rangiferina

Cladonia rangiferina, also known as Reindeer lichen (c.p. Sw. renlav), lat., is a light-colored, fruticose lichen belonging to the family Cladoniaceae. It grows in both hot and cold climates in well-drained, open environments. Found primarily in areas of alpine tundra, it is extremely cold-hardy.

Other common names include Reindeer moss and Caribou moss. As the common names suggest, Reindeer lichen is an important food for reindeer (caribou), and has economic importance as a result. Synonyms include Cladina rangiferina and Lichen rangiferinus.

Reindeer lichen, like many lichens, is slow growing (3-5 mm per year) and may take decades to return once overgrazed, burned, trampled, or otherwise consumed.[1]

A similar-looking species also known by the common name Reindeer lichen is Cladonia portentosa.



Thalli are fruticose, and extensively branched, with each branch usually dividing into three or four (sometimes two); the thicker branches are typically 1-1.5 mm in diameter.[1] The color is grayish, whitish or brownish grey. C. rangiferina forms extensive mats up to 10 cm tall. The branching is at a smaller angle than that of Cladonia portentosa.[2] It lacks a well-defined cortex (a protective layer covering the thallus, analogous to the epidermis in plants), but rather, a loose layer of hyphae cover the photobionts. The photobiont associated with the reindeer lichen is Trebouxia irregularis.[3] It grows on humus, or on soil over rock.

Habitat and conservation

C. rangiferina often dominates the ground in boreal pine forests and open, low-alpine sites in a wide range of habitats, from humid, open forests, rocks and heaths. A specific biome in which this lichen is represented by the Boreal forests of Canada.[4]

In certain parts of its range this lichen is a threatened species. For example in the British Duchy of Cornwall it is protected under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Bioactive compounds

A variety of bioactive compounds have been isolated and identified from C. rangierina, including abietane, labdane, isopimarane, the abietane diterpenoids hanagokenols A and B, ontuanhydride, sugiol, 5,6-dehydrosugiol, montbretol, cis-communic acid, imbricatolic acid, 15-acetylimbricatoloic acid, junicedric acid, 7α-hydroxysandaracopimaric acid, β-resorylic acid, atronol, barbatic acid, homosekikaic acid, didymic acid and condidymic acid. Some of these compounds have mild inhibitory activities against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.[5] Exposure to UV-B radiation induces the accumulation of usnic acid and melanic compounds.[6] Usnic acid is thought to play a role in protecting the photosymbiont by absorbing excess UV-B.[7][8]


This lichen can be used in the making of aquavit, and is sometimes used as decoration in glass windows. The lichen is used as a traditional remedy for removal of kidney stones by the Monpa in the alpine regions of the West Kameng district of Eastern Himalaya.[9] The Inland Dena'ina used reindeer lichen for food by crushing the dry plant and then boiling it or soaking it in hot water until it becomes soft. They eat it plain or, preferably, mixed with berries, fish eggs, or lard. The Inland Dena'ina also boil Reindeer lichen and drink the juice as a medicine for diarrhea. Due to acids in them, lichens may cause an upset stomach, especially if not well cooked.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Geiser, Linda; McCune, Bruce (1997). Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-87071-394-9. 
  2. ^ Dobson, Frank S., Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species, Richmond Publishing, Slough, 5th edn 2005.
  3. ^ Rikkinen J. (1995). What's Behind the Pretty Colours?: a Study on the Photobiology of Lichens. Bryobrothera '4'. p. 16
  4. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Black Spruce: Picea mariana,, ed. N. Stromberg
  5. ^ Yoshikawa K, Kokudo N, Tanaka M, Nakano T, Shibata H, Aragaki N, Higuchi T, Hashimoto T. (2008). Novel abietane diterpenoids and aromatic compounds from Cladonia rangiferina and their antimicrobial activity against antibiotics resistant bacteria. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 56(1): 89-92.
  6. ^ Nybakken L, Julkunen-Tiito R. (2006). UV-B induces usnic acid in reindeer lichens. Lichenologist 38(5): 477-485.
  7. ^ Bjerke J, Lerfall H, Elvebakk A. (2002) Effects of ultraviolet radiation and PAR on the content of usnic and divaricatic acids in two arctic-alpine lichens. Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences 1: 678–685.
  8. ^ Bjerke JW, Elvebakk A, Dominguez E, Dahlback A. (2005) Seasonal trends in usnic acid concentrations of Arctic, alpine and Patagonian populations of the lichen Flavocetraria nivalis. Phytochemistry 66: 337–344.
  9. ^ Rout J, Kar A, Upreti DK. (2005). Traditional remedy for kidney stones from a high altitude lichen: Cladonia rangiferina (L.) Wigg (Reindeer moss) of Eastern Himalaya. Ethnobotany 17(1/2): 164-166.
  10. ^ "Caribou Moss - Cladonia rangiferina". Retrieved 2009-01-12. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cladonia rangiferina — Echte Rentierflechte Rentierflechte (Cladonia rangiferina) Systematik Abteilung: Schlauchpilze (Ascomycota) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cladonia rangiferina — Cladonia …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cladonia rangiferina — Reindeer Rein deer (r?n d?r), n. [Icel. hreinn reindeer + E. deer. Icel. hreinn is of Lapp or Finnish origin; cf. Lappish reino pasturage.] [Formerly written also {raindeer}, and {ranedeer}.] (Zool.) Any ruminant of the genus {Rangifer}, of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cladonia rangiferina — noun an erect greyish branching lichen of Arctic and even some north temperate regions constituting the chief food for reindeer and caribou and sometimes being eaten by humans • Syn: ↑reindeer moss, ↑reindeer lichen, ↑arctic moss • Hypernyms:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cladonia rangiferina — …   Википедия

  • Cladonia rangiferina (L.) F.H. Wigg. — Symbol CLRA60 Synonym Symbol CLRA4 Botanical Family Cladoniaceae …   Scientific plant list

  • Cladonia — portentosa Scientific classification Kingdom: Fungi …   Wikipedia

  • Cladonia portentosa — Scientific classification Kingdom: Fungi Division …   Wikipedia

  • Cladonia — Cladonia …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cladonia stellaris — Scientific classification Kingdom: Fungi …   Wikipedia

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