Icelandic Moss Cut


Botanical NameCetraria islandica

Common Name:

  • English: Icelandic moss
  • Ayurvedic: Shaileya
  • Also, known as: Cetraria, Iceland Lichen, Iceland moss, Islandische Flechte, Islandische Tartschenflechte, Islandisches Moos, Kharaz assoukhour, Lichen Catharticus, Charela, Torfmoos, Sphaigne, Hiusgo, Stagno, Lahana, Lungenmoos, Matmasa, Muscus, Purgiermoos, Al kharaza, Blatterflechte, Brodmose,  Broedmasa, Erba Rissa, Fieberflechte, Fiebermoos, Focus, Hazaz, Heideflechte,  Iceland Liver Wort, Lichen d’Islande, Lichene Islandico, Liquen de islandia, Svinmasa

Habitat: Europe, Siberia and North America

Origin: Ukraine

Harvested: Wild or cultivated

Parts Used: The whole lichen                                                             

General Information:

Cetraria islandica is not a moss, but lichen, a symbiotic association between algae and fungus which are growing together in a mutually helpful relationship. Lichens draw their nutrients from the environment. Although it is not a vascular plant, the structure of Iceland moss can be mistaken for stems and leaves, which makes it look like a moss; the likeness in appearance may have been the reason for its name. A lichen of approximately 8-12 cm in height, growing on the ground, the brown shrubby thallus lobed and forked, usually attached in one place, and with a fringed margin. The thallus is channeled or rolled into thin, branched tubes, which terminate in flattened lobes fringed with minute papillae, rarely more than 5mm wide The whole lichen is very tough and springy. It varies considerably from pale chestnut to grayish white; the upper surface is darker, the under surface is lighter to whitish and the lower surface whitish-gray with numerous small, whitish depressed spots. It rarely fructifies but the thallus varies in size, amount of division and cusping as well as color. Icelandic 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, and moose.

Icelandic moss is also used as a food supplement for sheep and cattle and was probably the first lichen used as food by humans. It may be collected throughout the year during the dry weather. It can be dried under direct sun or shade after removing loose fragments for later use. In earlier times, it was much more widely used with cereals, potatoes, breads, soups, salads, and jellies. A little bitter-tasting, it contains about 65-70 percent lichenin.  Because Iceland moss is a source of glycerol, it is used in the soap industry and in the manufacture of cold creams.

How to use:

Hot Infusion:

The basic method for dried herbs and flower is, take 2-3 tablespoons of dried herb in a cup or teapot. Pour hot water over it and cover it with lid for 10-30 minutes. Hot water is needed to draw out the antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, flavonoids, and volatile oils from the botanicals. Strain and squeeze out as much as liquid as possible and enjoy!


  • You can sweeten your herbal tea with a bit of honey, natural fruit juice, stevia leaves powder and or licorice root powder.
  • You can make ice cubes or pops by freezing tea in ice trays or pop molds.


You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

All information on this website is for educational purposes ONLY.

This information has not been evaluated by Health Canada.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.