Reindeer Moss (Cladonia spp.)

Educational Story

Reindeer Moss, Cladonia spp., includes several species of lichen that can be found growing on the ground throughout Florida in undisturbed, dry upland habitats.  It is typically abundant in areas that have not been exposed to fire for many years. Lichens are not a single species, but are actually a mutualism between a fungus and a blue-green algae. In this relationship, the fungus provides structural support for the blue-green algae, while the algae makes food through photosynthesis. It is colored gray to green with sponge-like masses lacking roots, it may be found in oak leaf litter in scrubby flatwoods on well drained soils. The Cladonia genus occurs as far north as the arctic tundra where it provides food for reindeer during frozen winter months.  There are nine species of Cladonia in Florida, including C. evansii, the powderpuff lichens (pictured above).

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Gardening Facts

Scientific Name: Cladonia spp.
Common Name: Reindeer Moss
Description of facts and concepts: Small lichen that grows in clusters on top of sandy soil exhibiting an ashy green/blue color
Seed or division information: Reproduces by spores
Date of flower’s bloom (Month and week): N/A
Ecoregion: Scrubby Flatwoods, Xeric Hammock
Color of Flower: N/A
Height: 1-4 inches
Spread: 1-4 inches
Family: Cladoniaceae
Soil Type: Base to Acidic Basic
Soil: Dry to Wet Dry
Light: Sun to Shade Full sun to partial shade
Zone Widespread