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Treemoss Resinoid – Usnea

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Usnea is a genus of mostly pale grayish-green fruticose lichens that grow like leafless mini-shrubs or tassels anchored on bark or twigs. The genus is in the family Parmeliaceae. It grows all over the world.

Members of the genus are commonly called old man’s beard, or beard lichen.It resembles Evernia, which is also called tree moss.

Like other lichens it is a symbiosis of a fungus and an alga. In Usnea, the fungus belongs to the division Ascomycota, while the alga is a member of the division Chlorophyta.

Members of the genus are similar to those of the genus Alectoria. A distinguishing test is that the branches of Usnea are somewhat elastic, but the branches of Alectoria snap cleanly off.

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Medical claims
According to Paul Bergner, Author of Medical Herbalism. “The usnic acid in Usnea is effective against gram positive bacteria such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, making Usnea a valuable addition to herbal formulas for sore throats and skin infections. It is also effective against a bacterium that commonly causes pneumonia”[13]

There is reason to believe that Usnea, in high concentrations, could possess some toxicity.[14] The National Toxicology Program is currently evaluating the issue.[15]

Usnea species have been used to create orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple dyes for textiles.[16][17]

Usnea barbata has been used in cosmetic production for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties as a preservative and deodorant.[18]

Usnea barbata when dry is extremely flammable and is often used as a firestarter.

As a fruticose lichen, Usnea appears as a shrub-like growth on host trees. Unlike other similar-looking fruticose lichens, species in this genus have an elastic chord or axis running through the middle of the thallus that can be revealed by gently pulling a filament apart from either end

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