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Trail Life: Lichen, fungi with benefits

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Welcome to another randonnée (hike) from our Trail Life series.

Over the past 4-5 weeks, I have committed every Thursday ( except for Thanksgiving Day) to sharing something related to my hikes.

I shared in previous Trail Life posts, that when I wrote my book The Art of Rooting, there were many interesting 'discoveries' that I wanted to share.

I launched the Trail Life series as an extension to the book and a way to explore more from my trail adventures, which I refer to as "randonnées," the French word for hikes.

In our three previous posts, I chose a tree and shared some fun facts about the selected tree.

The previous trees from our series are:

Today, instead of focusing on a particular tree, I am sharing about Lichens, something that grows on trees.

During a recent hike early this week, I ran into a pair of men who were hiking with a basket in hand. I asked the man holding the basket if they were foraging, he had a very beautiful disposition and we exchanged small talk. When I first ran into them they were heading toward Little Owl Village while I was returning from there. ( Our hiking location was the Historic Trail of Tears at the Audubon Acres.)

We crossed paths once again as I was ending my hike and this time around I asked if they had much success, and noticed that their basket was fuller. The man carrying the basket pointed to the basket which was now had noticeably more mushrooms than when I had first met them on the trails.

I told him that I did not know much about mushrooms (something I admitted in The Art of Rooting before promising that I would commit some time to learning more once I finished working on the book).

He was very enthusiastic and told me that he loves teaching and wouldn't mind me recording him. He proceeded to tell me more about the mushrooms they had picked ( I am saving the part for a later post). What got my attention, and what I want to share today, was something that I had seen before but was unfamiliar with, Lichen.

What fascinated me the most was the health benefits of the type of Lichen that he was introducing me to (usnea).

In our previous Trail Life adventure, I discussed the value of trees for their health benefits,

Since Lichen grows on trees ( amongst other things) I wanted to continue the conversation on the medicinal benefits of trees.

In the video, our "foraging professor" shares how potent usnea is to treat bronchitis and sore throats.

I was excited about this beautiful encounter and the very next day, I spotted some usnea on the trails, finally knowing more about them, I picked the one I came across.

The following day I noticed some usnea at least four times throughout my hike. Each time I saw them, I smiled at the "odds" of seeing so many of them now that I finally knew more about them.

After picking some Lichens two days in a row following my "impromptu foraging lesson" I decided to research more and share some of my findings. If you are like me and have much to learn on the subject I invite you to do more googling if you are familiar with them, I welcome your knowledge and experience with open arms.

Some facts & benefits

  • Lichen serves as a food source and habitat for many animals such as deer, birds, and rodents

  • It provides nesting material for birds

  • It protects trees and rocks from extreme elements such as rain, wind, and snow.

  • It gets the food they need to survive directly from the air

  • It plays an important role in keeping people and nature healthy

Types of Lichen

Both algae and fungi, there are three types of Lichen.

  • Foliose (leafy)

  • Fructicose (bushy)

  • Crustose (crusty)

  • "Usnea, known as old man's beard

  • type of lichen that grows on the trees, bushes, rocks, and soil of temperate and humid climate worldwide"

  • Usnea uses include: Lichen aids with weight loss, soothes sore throats, accelerates wound healing, and reduces pain and fever. Read more healthline what is usnea - Search (

Environmental significance:

As my impromptu "foraging professor" pointed out in the video above, Lichen is an indicator of clean air.

  • Lichens are very sensitive to air pollution

  • Lichens need clean fresh air to survive. They absorb everything.

  • They absorb water in the air. Many lichens are found in fog belts along oceans and big lakes

All the lichens I picked this week were along the South Chickamauga Creek. Do you know the story of "The Mermaid of South Chickamauga Creek?" It's a very special story that I shared in The Art of Rooting.

  • Few lichens can survive near big cities, factories, and highways due to the heavy pollution.

  • For example, Lichen can not grow in places heavily polluted with Sulphur dioxide

  • The surfaces where lichens grow are called substrates which can include cars, rocks, soils, trees, old farm equipment

  • Lichens grow very slowly making them unlikely to cause any major damage, to any surfaces where they grow.

Let us know...

  1. Are you familiar with any of the health benefits of Lichen?

  2. Is there any tree or plant that you for its medicinal benefits? Which ones and how do you apply them?

Though I published The Art of Rooting over two months ago, I love that every hike still renews my sense of wonder.

The Art of Rooting was inspired by one of my many hikes. While working on the book this Summer 2023, the inspiration to create a coloring and activity book, came weeks later at the end of another hike.

Nature is my muse and the place where a lot of my best ideas come to me, making me a strong believer in its mental benefits.

It never ceases to amaze me that nature benefits us both physically and mentally and this is one of the main reasons why I support and advocate for a greener and healthier planet.

Get into some of our conversations and learn more about my inspiration and passions for the books:Blog | NAKIVOIRE

Get your copy of the Art of Rooting books and enjoy this rich experience like none other.

Shop the NakBook notebooks to log your trail adventures or plan your goals for the upcoming year.

If you are new to this blog and are not yet familiar with my work, passions, and shenanigans, here's a super short intro:

French is my first language

I was born in Cote d'Ivoire and now live in Tennessee (USA)

I am a bilingual performing poet and writer. I am visual artist, and a recording spoken-word artist ( The Self-Love Blessing on Spotify and Apple Music. Get the lyrics when you buy the e-book of the same title on Amazon)

I am the author of eight (solo) books, and I have been published in three anthologies by Rhyme N Chatt.

I have been featured in Healthscope magazine (August 2023), sharing a recipe from my cookbook It's a Pineapple Thing!

I am a multiple-time Black Excellence of Chattanooga award nominee.

If you are reading this before December 6, 2023, please vote for me! #44 and #60 on the following link

Thank You and see you on the trails...

1 Comment

Mike Twitty
Mike Twitty
Dec 03, 2023

Another informative and colorfully narrated journey! All the time I’ve spent in the forests and I never knew lichens were so beneficial! Thank you for bringing us along!

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