Part of the excitement of moving to a new place for me is becoming familiar with my herbal neighbors. Sometimes, this means being introduced to an entirely new species I have never had the pleasure of working with, but other times it means developing a relationship with a plant that I have used via store bought preparations, but never worked with in person. Usnea (sometimes called Tree Beards or Old Man's Beard) is actual in the former category for me, although I have had friends that have counted it as a valuable ally.
I have never needed to explore Usnea for personal use. But when a new herb literally falls at my feet, I tend to pay attention! And that's what started my investigation into Usnea. This herb is actually a lichen, which is a symbiotic relationship that developed between a fungus and alga. It grows on trees, but will often end up underfoot after high winds or storms. But you may be wondering what, exactly, is Usnea used for, and why is it good to have around?
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