This lichen grows in large mats in spruce forests, where it is often eaten by caribou. According to Alfred Semple, Lazarus Sittichinli said it takes a long time to grow. He also told Alfred that if you eat animals that eat willow, like moose, you will get hungry more quickly than eating animals that eat lichen, like caribou. William Teya said, as children, they were taught to respect the lichen. Children were not supposed to play on it and if you took some, you were to pay for it.
Gwich’in women used to hang wet moss in branches of willows to dry and get rid of bugs. (The bugs crawl out or drop from the drying moss.) The dry moss was stuff and sewn into cloth sugar bags for use as diapers. Strips of cloth were used to tie the diapers on.
Wet moss was used for washing dishes, cleaning hands and wiping off fish and fish tables.
As trail marker
The leaves and stems can be steamed for nasal congestion, colds and stomach ailments.
The root tubercles, or dazho zhii (translated from Teetł'it means “mouse food”) can be eaten raw.
As pot cleaner
The coarse green stems can be gathered and used to scrub pots and clean dishes.
Source: Andre, Alestine and Alan Fehr, Gwich'in Ethnobotany, 2nd ed. (2002)