Turns out I have medicine growing in my yard! Do you? It's called USNEA.

We learn something new every day, don't we?

Well, we do IF we are paying attention, that is...

I was scrolling through facebook the other day, and came across a post by a local farm proclaiming how they hit the motherload that morning, and were all set to make a tincture of something called 'Old Man's Beard'.

The photo they posted was of a substance that looked mighty familiar... Something like this:


Say what?!

I have this stuff all over the place in my yard. Every time it rains, dead branches fall from the old oaks here and they are usually loaded with that stuff!

The goats munch on it, but other than that, I never thought twice about it.

Here is a picture of some sticks with the lichen growing on it. Of course, I didn't stop to take photos until AFTER I had collected a ton, so the more dramatic-looking branches that were loaded were, by then, picked clean. I was left with twigs to photograph...

Time to do some research!

Turns out, this stuff, this 'Old Man's Beard', is actually a lichen, called Usnea. Usnea is some pretty amazing stuff. First of all, it is a LICHEN. Now, I didn't know this, but lichens are actually a very cool combination of fungi and algae! It grows together symbiotically and creates a new thing called a lichen. I don't know how this tidbit of information has eluded me all these years, but wow! I still think it's super cool!

Another kind of lichen...

Not all lichens are useful to people, and some can actually be harmful, BUT usnea is a valuable substance!

It can be used for things like weight loss, as a pain reliever, as an immune system booster, to control a fever, as an antiseptic wound dressing, and as a cough remedy, by acting as an expectorant.

I find it quite exciting because it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal! As such it can be used for all sorts of injuries and infections! Because it affects mainly gram-positive bacteria, it can kill off all manner of pathogens WITHOUT HARMING our beneficial bacteria! This is pretty stinkin' awesome!

When you take typical antibiotics from your local PhD, it wipes out the disease, yes, along with all your beneficial bacteria, making life miserable for the next few months as your body tries to rebuild it's immune system. Finding natural antimicrobial substances that do not harm your beneficial bacteria is a pretty wonderful thing, especially since it is FREE in your own backyard!

An old oak tree: a common place for usnea to grow.

The most common way to prepare and store usnea is as a tincture. Usnea is not water soluble, so many people preserve its qualities in alcohol.

Now, as excited as I was, I did not have any alcohol in the house. I live 30 minutes from the nearest town, and I was not going to spend my morning running to town for booze. I began looking for other options.

A less common way to preserve this fantastic stuff is dehydrating! I happen to have a dehydrator on hand, so naturally, this was the route I chose!

After washing the usnea VERY well, (it was full of sand from the ground!), I spread it on a towel to dry as I set up the dehydrator.


I loaded up the dehydrator with the fluffy lichen. It took about two trays, so I decided not to let the empty trays go to waste. I also dried out some ginger that day, and bananas. Yum!


After a few hours, when the usnea was quite dry and brittle, I removed it from the machine and allowed it to cool.

I used my coffee grinder to grind the lichen into a powder. (Maybe there is a better method, but like I said, I was going with what I had.)


After some grinding, the whole large pile of lichen I started out with was reduced down to about 3/4 of a cup of powder.


Now, I have to admit, I only made this powder a couple days ago, and I have not personally used it yet.

Also, guys, I am not a doctor. Shocking, I know. Just to cover my butt here, I am not giving anyone medical advice.

I would highly recommend doing your own research, just like I am, to find the best uses and doses for this wonderful usnea. I feel like it will be quite useful. We like using natural remedies around here, and this stuff fits right in. I've only found one study that was suggesting usnea may be unsafe, BUT that was a drug that contained an isolated extract of a substance in the lichen, taken as a weight loss supplement, NOT the whole plant body.
ALSO, it is worth noting that there are toxic look-alikes to usnea. I am quite confident that I have the actual thing, but please, do your research and make sure you identify your lichens without a doubt before you start munching on the stuff.



Anyway, how about it? Have you heard of usnea before? Do you use things growing in your yard for their health benefits?


Thanks for stopping by! Let me know below what natural remedies you like using, or what cool stuff you harvest from YOUR yard!

Have a wonderful day, Steemians! ♥


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Wow I surely learn something new everyday. This is the first of me hearing the term usnea. Do you know how many times I have seen lichen growing up? Oh sooo many! I had no clue the treasure that was hidden within! This was an awesome informative post! I don’t have an oak tree in my yard but I will keep an eye out and inform those who do. I love natural remedies and natural medicines. I think it is neat how you dehydrated it and then turned it into powder form! Please keep us posted on what you decide to use it for and how it worked for you! 😃

I'd never heard of usnea before either, and I have been fascinated by lichens my whole life. I read that the inside fungi part is a major immune system booster, and the outside algae part is the antibiotic. Amazing! I dont know how I never knew that was what a lichen is.
They dont only grow on oaks, but that is a common place to find them. It can be on any old, decaying hardwood, from what I am reading. Our oak trees are so old, they have many dying branches up there, and whenever it rains, a few always fall. (The trees are healthy, its just part of their aging, I guess.)

Ill definitely have to do an update post when I have used this stuff and tell everyone how it works! ♥

Wow this is so amazing! I probably would have never known about this if you didn’t post it. I love learning about these hidden treasure because you never know when you”ll run into some. I’m adding this to my knowledge book lol!! 😃

Yes please keep us updated!

Well I sure learned something new from this post of yours and I am very happy for you that it has received some very nice attention from the steemit community and especially the good folks over at Curie. Congratulations my friend on another fine piece of work.
I have seen this lichen down here in Texas quite a bit and never have known a thing about it. When I saw the first photo I immediately thought , "Spanish moss" but it appears that the lichen grows in the same conditions as the Spanish moss and is the little flaky stuff right?

Thanks so much! I wasnt expecting that kind of attention, haha. :)

Yes, it grows in a similar environment as spanish moss, but it is NOT the same. I actually picked quite a bit of spanish moss out of what I was collecting. Now, spanish moss MAY be good for something, but other than feeding it to my goats, I dont know what. This is the smallish furry looking lichen that grows directly on the tree.
Not my pic, but here is one showing the usnea, which is quite a bit smaller than spanish moss:

Anyway, thanks for stopping by! :D

Thanks for that picture to clarify it for me I will have to take a look and see if I can find some over at my father in laws place. He has a bunch of old live oaks at the back of his place and I can't say for certain he has that growing or not. it would be good if he did.

Good luck! I bet he does!

Huh, I've never heard of this, but it does look interesting when we find useful things in the garden that we never knew were there! It's too cold to go pottering around in the garden at the moment, but when spring comes, I must remember to poke around and have a look!

Absolutely! I am kicking myself for having this around all these years and never knowing what a gem it really is!

Now, if I could find real gems in my garden...

Haha that would be awesome. :D

Amazing! I'll have to look out for this. I did my mountain leader course a few weeks ago, and we learned about several lichens and mosses, though not this one.

So cool!
A mountain leader course sounds fun! I bet you learned a lot of interesting things!

It was fantastic, and we learned loads.

On another note, should look into the @naturalmedicine group😎

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Thanks!! I sure will. :)

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Thank you very much! ♥

It is always good to learn something new, thanks! I have never heard about usnea , but nature is wise. If you use it sometime, please share your experience with us!

I will update for sure once Ive used it some, and let you all know how it works!

Oh, wow! I'm going to check our oak trees now! Lots of lichens, but I don't recall seeing that particular one.

Oh yeah, check it out! It is probably hiding up there!
Especially the branches that are dead or dying.

Gosh I've never known about this, I have some plants in my garden that have health benefits, will certainly share it here!

I didnt know about it either! I am kicking myself for having this resource all these years and not even knowing! :D

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