reindeer moss

reindeer moss

noun
any of several lichens of the genus Cladonia, especially the gray, many-branched C. rangiferina, of arctic and subarctic regions, eaten by reindeer and caribou.

Origin:
1745–55

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World English Dictionary
reindeer moss
 
n
any of various lichens of the genus Cladonia, esp C. rangiferina, which occur in arctic and subarctic regions, providing food for reindeer

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

reindeer moss

(Cladonia rangiferina), a fruticose (bushy, branched) lichen found in great abundance in Arctic lands. It is an erect, many-branched plant that grows up to 8 cm high, covers immense areas, and serves as pasture for reindeer, moose, caribou, and musk oxen. In Scandinavia it has been used in the manufacture of alcohol, but difficulties in obtaining reindeer moss arise because of its slow growth rate (3 to 5 mm per year). Its periods of most rapid growth are spring and fall when high humidity and cool temperatures prevail.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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