Bible legend says that when Moses led his people through the desert, and all food supplies were eaten, exhausted people were ready to die of hunger. But suddenly the wind picked up, and gray lumps fell on the hot sand, which the starving people ate raw and from which they cooked porridge. And they thought it was God who would send them manna from heaven.
Russian botanist Palpas proved that the gray lumps that "fell" from the sky on the heads of the afflicted were lichens that are found in the deserts of Asia Minor and Central Asia and Africa. With gusts of wind they roll over the desert, withstand the heat of 70 degrees. Once completely dry, they come alive again when exposed to rain.
On Earth, lichens appeared a hundred million years ago. For a long time, scientists could not determine whether it was a mushroom or an algae. Until they came to the conclusion that lichen is a symbiosis of fungus and algae. In its structure, deer moss resembles a tree in miniature: there is a “trunk” - a thallus, in all directions from which “branches” diverge - an interweaving of fungal hyphae and algae cells that protect the lichen from damage and drying out. There are peculiar "roots" - rhizoids, with the help of which lichens are attached to stones andsoil. The anatomical structure of lichens happens:
- homeomeric - algae scattered throughout the lichen;
- heteromeric - algae are in the thallus and form a separate layer.
Reproduction and growth
Lichens can reproduce by spores produced by the fungus, or vegetatively: by pieces of thallus. Able to grow in the most severe conditions: in rocks, on stones, on poor soils, in sand. They are the first to develop places unsuitable for life and create conditions for other organisms. They grow very slowly: about 5 mm per year. The color scheme is diverse: from black, white, gray, to bright yellow, orange and red. The mechanism for the production of lichen color has not yet been elucidated, it is only obvious that it is associated with exposure to sunlight. At the slightest pollution of the atmosphere, lichens die, because, unlike plants, they do not have a protective cuticle, and toxic substances penetrate through their entire surface.
Reindeer moss or Icelandic centaria, or reindeer moss is a lichen that grows in northern Russia. It has long been used by local residents to treat many diseases. Scientists have found that it contains such substances useful for the body as folic acid, gum, almost all vitamins, manganese, titanium, iron, iodine, nickel and others. The medicinal properties it possesses cannot be overestimated. Residents of the North treat various diseases with reindeer moss. For the treatment of coughs, stomach ulcers, problems withreindeer moss is crushed into powder with intestines and jelly is boiled. It also removes toxins from the body. Reindeer moss is very effective for wounds, boils, ulcers. His decoction is washed with wounds and lotions are made three to four times a day. For the treatment of emphysema, deer moss is boiled in milk. It is widely used in home cosmetology to remove age spots and acne. Reindeer moss serves as a raw material for delicious marmalade, jelly and kissel.