Edible lichen

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Two freshly cooked loaves of wila (Bryoria fremontii), an important Native American edible lichen

Edible lichens are lichens that have a cultural history of use as a food. Although almost all lichen are edible (with some notable poisonous exceptions like the wolf lichen, powdered sunshine lichen, and the ground lichen), not all have a cultural history of usage as an edible lichen.[1][2]


Although there are many lichen species throughout the world, it has been noted that only a few species of lichen are edible and provide nutritional value.[3] Recent analytics within the field have identified 15 kinds of edible lichen,[4] which have been mostly found in China. Due to its rubbery consistency, it has been noted that individuals within China fry, boil, and pressure cook[5] edible lichen. It is also useful to note that edible lichen can be made into beverages such as tea.[6]

In India, The Middle East, and Niger, Rimelia reticulata, Ramalina conduplicans, and Parmotrema tinctorum are utilized as spices and flavor enhancers.[7] Spices and flavor enhancer are made through a process in which the edible lichens are dehydrated.[8] The dehydrated lichen is then processed and made into specific spices and flavor enhancers.

List of edible lichen[edit]

Examples of edible lichen, grouped by their families, include:






  1. ^ "Lichens - Did You Know?". USDA - US Forest Service. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Reindeer Moss". Eat The Weeds. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  3. ^ Zhao, Yingshu; Wang, Mingfu; Xu, B. (2021). "A comprehensive review on secondary metabolites and health-promoting effects of edible lichen". Journal of Functional Foods. 80: 104283. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2020.104283. S2CID 228853573. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  4. ^ Zheng, Yu; Xiao, Chao-Jiang; Guo, Kai; Wang, Ying; Liu, Yan; Luo, Shi-Hong; Li, Xiao-Nian; Li, Sheng-Hong (2018-02-21). "Lobarioid A, unusual antibacterial depsidone possessing an eight-membered diether ring from the edible lichen Lobaria sp". Tetrahedron Letters. 59 (8): 743–746. doi:10.1016/j.tetlet.2018.01.027. ISSN 0040-4039.
  5. ^ Choi, Ra-Yeong; Ham, Ju Ri; Yeo, Jiyoung; Hur, Jae-Seoun; Park, Seok-Kyu; Kim, Myung-Joo; Lee, Mi-Kyung (December 2017). "Anti-Obesity Property of Lichen Thamnolia vermicularis Extract in 3T3-L1 Cells and Diet-Induced Obese Mice". Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 22 (4): 285–292. doi:10.3746/pnf.2017.22.4.285. ISSN 2287-1098. PMC 5758091. PMID 29333380.
  6. ^ Xu, Baojun; Li, Chantian; Sung, Changkeun (2014). "Telomerase inhibitory effects of medicinal mushrooms and lichens, and their anticancer activity". International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 16 (1): 17–28. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v16.i1.20. ISSN 1940-4344. PMID 24940901.
  7. ^ "Lichen planus in children". Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  8. ^ Nubie, Steve (2018-01-09). "It's 1,000 Years Old. It's Edible. And It's On Your Property". Off The Grid News. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  9. ^ John Wiseman. The SAS Survival Handbook.
  10. ^ Bradford Angier (1974). Field guide to Edible Plants. ISBN 9780811720182.
  11. ^ a b c Bhattarai; Subba (1999). "Nutritional value of some edible lichens of East Nepal". Angewandte Botanik.