The New International Encyclopædia/Reindeer moss

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REINDEER MOSS (Cladonia rangiferina). A lichen of great importance to inhabitants of the northernmost regions of the Northern Hemisphere, where it covers great areas and furnishes the chief winter food of the reindeer. It is found in almost all parts of the world, but is most abundant and luxuriant in arctic and sub-arctic regions, often occupying the ground in pine and spruce forests. When such forests are destroyed by fire it soon reappears. It is a variable plant, but always consists of a much-branched, erect, cylindrical, tubular thallus, with small perforations in the axils, and attains a height of two inches or more. Its importance was first brought into notice by Linnæus in his Flora Lapponica. It is sometimes used for human food. Its taste is pleasant, although attended with a slight pungency or acridity. It is generally boiled in reindeer milk. Its nutritious qualities depend chiefly on a form of starch, lichenin, which it contains.