Lichens have been used for many things by both animals and humans. They provide forage, shelter, and building materials for elk, deer, birds, and insects.
Here in Southeast Alaska, deer, moose and goats commonly eat lichens, especially in winter when there is no greenery. Goats, deer, moose and caribou are herbivores with four-compartmented stomachs adapted to help break down the complex carbohydrates that compose the bulk of the lichens and summer herbage that they eat.
We shouldn’t pick up a lichen from a rock or tree and eat it. A few species have been eaten by humans, however. Many species are believed to be mildly toxic, at least a few are poisonous, and most are indigestible in their raw form.
Are lichens harmful to your trees? No. Those grayish-green patches, usually one to three inches in diameter, are not feeding on your trees. Since lichens are able to make their own food with moisture and sunlight, they have no need to parasitize other plants.
Most of us believe that moss and lichens are not edible. However, lichens make up a substantial part of the diet in the Arctic, and almost every moss and lichen is edible. That does not imply that they are palatable, or nutritious, but most can, indeed, be eaten. When desperate, eat!
According to my research, wild rabbits do eat lichen so it should be ok. I would just keep it as a rare treat to be fed in small amounts. If you notice anything “off” about your rabbits after feeding it then simply stop.
The Lichen Is a Decomposer Lichens release chemicals that work to break down rocks, creating more soil. Though the lichen is a decomposer, it is not a parasite. Lichen often grows on trees, but does not remove any nutrients from them. The lichen is merely living on the tree without harming it.
Two applications of Wet & Forget Outdoor are needed to treat and eliminate lichen adequately. Once applied, the Wet & Forget starts to work on the surface and then over time will remove the dead lichen with exposure to the wind and rain. To apply, thoroughly saturate the surface with the Wet & Forget Outdoor Cleaner.
Lichens have been used in making dyes, perfumes, and in traditional medicines. A few lichen species are eaten by insects or larger animals, such as reindeer. Lichens are widely used as environmental indicators or bio-indicators.
Lichen should not be removed from trees as removing it does more harm than good. The lichen is not hurting the tree, so there’s no reason to remove it. In fact, you ‘re likely to injure the bark by trying to remove the lichen, ultimately causing damage to the tree and providing entryways for diseases and pests.
White vinegar is a pungent, versatile liquid that naturally cuts through grease, removes odors and kills fungus and lichens. After thoroughly coating the lichens with the soapy solution, scrub the surface with a stiff bristled broom or brush and then rinse with water.
The simplest way to tell if lichen is dormant or growing is by looking at its color. The darker black or brighter green lichen is, chances are that it is photosynthesizing. Of course, if it is wet and pliable, that is a good indication too.