What Is Reindeer Lichen

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What Is Reindeer Lichen
What Is Reindeer Lichen

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The flora in the tundra is not very diverse. Therefore, animals, trying to adapt to the harsh conditions of northern existence, long ago switched to "pasture" food, looking for and eating mosses and lichens. One of the important elements of the reindeer diet is lichen.

What is reindeer lichen
What is reindeer lichen

Yagel - "deer moss"

Yagel is often called "deer moss", although by its nature it is not such, but belongs to the group of lichens, to the genus Kladonia. This lichen grows, as a rule, in the tundra, preferring a dry and open environment. One of the main properties of reindeer lichen is extremely high frost resistance. However, it may well take root in a warm climate.

The lichen grows rather slowly, only by a few millimeters per year. Therefore, after grazing reindeer, which actively eat this lichen, it sometimes takes years or even decades to restore pastures. This is the time required for the branchy and bushy growth of lichen to re-form in the tundra.

In appearance, reindeer lichen resembles a composition of intertwined finest threads and cells. This undersized shrub was named "deer moss" only because during the harsh winter it feeds reindeer, which confidently find reindeer under the snow, focusing on a specific smell. And other inhabitants of the tundra, for example, lemmings, do not consider it shameful to eat reindeer lichen.

Yagel adapts very easily to the harsh conditions of the tundra, successfully competing with other types of vegetation, such as mosses. Lichen vigorously grows between moss bushes and often obscures sunlight, without which the moss cannot develop well. As a result, moss thickets surrender under the pressure of reindeer lichen, yielding vast territories to it.

Where is reindeer lichen used

Yagel is widely used in folk medicine, because it has pronounced antibiotic properties. The Nenets and other indigenous people of the North often use this lichen for the manufacture of potions. There are also known experiments with reindeer lichen in the field of culinary - special sorts of bread and sauces are made from it, and also added to sweets.

But most often, reindeer feeds reindeer, making up the lion's share of the diet of these unpretentious animals in winter. One of the benefits of lichen is that it allows animals to get rid of intestinal parasites. In some regions of Norway, reindeer lichen twigs are given as additional feed to domestic animals: sheep, cows and pigs.

Dry lichen is difficult to pick up because its branches are very brittle. Usually, the collection of raw materials is carried out after a heavy rain. Then the lichen is thoroughly dried, after which it can be stored for an almost unlimited time without being damaged and rotted. Lichens intended for feeding animals are pre-soaked in slightly salted water and added to traditional feed. The nutritional value of this top dressing is very high.

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