Year of 2017

Reindeer lichen in Dartmoor National Park, England

England’s Dartmoor National Park is an ideal habitat for reindeer lichen, but there are no reindeer around to snack on it–unless the man with the sleigh makes a stopover there to let his team fuel up. Where reindeer do graze, lichen is an important wintertime food source, even if they have to dig under the snow to get to it. The lichen grows slowly and is one of the few plants that can survive the cold of the tundra. Since reindeer are among the few large mammals able to digest it, they have a plentiful supply of lichen to eat through the winter.

Cladonia rangiferina, also known as reindeer lichen, lat., is a light-colored, fruticose lichen belonging to the Cladoniaceae family. 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.
Scientific name: Cladonia rangiferina