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Iceland moss

noun
1.
an edible lichen, Cetraria islandica, of arctic regions, containing a starchlike substance used in medicine.
Origin
1795-1805
1795-1805
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Iceland moss

Iceland moss

noun
1.
a lichen, Cetraria islandica, of arctic regions and N Europe, with brownish edible fronds
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Encyclopedia Article for Iceland moss

(Cetraria islandica), a fruticose (branched, bushy) lichen with an upright thallus usually attached in one place. It varies in colour from deep brown to grayish white and may grow to a height of 7 cm (3 inches). The trough-shaped branches fork into flattened lobes that are edged with short hairs. Iceland moss grows in alpine areas of the Northern Hemisphere and on the lava slopes and plains of Iceland, whence it received its name. It is an important food for reindeer, caribou, musk-oxen, and moose. Iceland moss is also used as a food supplement for sheep and cattle and was probably the first lichen used as food by humans. It is soaked, dried, powdered, and mixed with cereals and potatoes for use in breads, soups, salads, and jellies. Slightly bitter-tasting, it contains about 70 percent lichenin, a lichen starch, and an extractable brown dye. Because Iceland moss is a source of glycerol, it is used in the soap industry and in the manufacture of cold creams.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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