Reindeer "Moss"

Dec 26, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When going to the landfill in Calhoun County, I pass through an area with extremely sandy soils. The roadsides are practically covered with a particular lichen we’ve always called reindeer moss. However, lichens are not mosses, which are in the plant kingdom, but are placed in the Kingdom Fungi. A lichen is an example of a mutualistic relationship between a fungus and an alga or cyanobacteria. The fungus makes up the body of the lichen. It weaves filaments over and around the alga, protecting and providing structural support for that organism. The alga or cyanobacteria are capable of photosynthesis and provide both organisms with carbohydrates needed for growth while carbon dioxide, water, and nutrients are absorbed through the air. That’s why lichens can grow on nutrient deprived soils, they’re basically just sitting on the soil and soaking up sunshine and rainfall when it comes.