Oakmoss (Evernia prunastri (L.) Ach.) is a species of lichen belonging to the Parmeliaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
E. prunastri species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Evernia herinii P.A.Duvign.;
– Evernia prunastri f. herinii (P.A.Duvign.) D.Hawksw.;
– Evernia prunastri f. retusa (Ach.) Cromb.;
– Evernia prunastri subsp. soralifera Räs.;
– Evernia prunastri var. arenaria (Retz.) Fr.;
– Evernia prunastri var. herinii (P.A.Duvign.) Maas Geest.;
– Evernia prunastri var. prunastri (L.) Ach.;
– Evernia prunastri var. retusa Ach., 1810;
– Evernia prunastri var. stictoceros (Sm.) Ach.;
– Evernia retusa (Ach.) Röhl.;
– Evernia stictoceros (Sm.) Sm. & Sowerby;
– Letharia arenaria;
– Lichen prunastri L.;
– Lichen stictoceros Sm.;
– Lobaria prunastri (L.) Hoffm.;
– Parmelia mollis var. prunastri (L.) Schaer.;
– Parmelia prunastri (L.) Ach.;
– Parmelia prunastri var. retusa Ach.;
– Physcia prunastri (L.) DC.;
– Physcia prunastri var. stictocera (Sm.) Schaer.;
– Platysma prunastri (L.) Frege;
– Ramalina prunastri (L.) Chevall.;
– Ramalina thrausta f. arenaria Fr.;
– Ramalina thrausta f. arenaria Fr. ex Arnold.
The ends of Evernia are of uncertain origin.
The specific prunastri epithet is the genitive of prunáster blackthorn, wild blackthorn: of the blackthorn, one of the host plants of these mushrooms.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Evernia prunastri is a lichen native to central Europe, from the coasts to the subalpine belt, and widespread in many mountainous temperate forests throughout the northern hemisphere. Notably it is found in the temperate mountain forests of the Northern Hemisphere, including France, Portugal, Spain, North America, and much of central Europe.
Its habitat is often those of natural environments, however it can also be present in peri-urban areas, while it is absent in large urban centers.
It grows mainly on the trunk and branches of oaks, but is also commonly found on the bark of other deciduous and coniferous trees such as fir and pine.
Evernia prunastri is a fruticose lichen that is recognized for having a green upper face and a whitish lower one.
The thallus also has a double color: yellowish green in the upper part, due to the presence of usnic acid, and whitish in the lower part. Occasionally it can be light gray in color.
The thallus is 3 – cm long, bushy and grows on the bark to form large tufts. Thallus is flat and belt-like. It is very branched, recalling the shape of the horns.
The texture of the thallus is rough when dry and rubbery when wet.
Evernia prunastri is a lichen that grows mainly on the trunk and branches of the oak, but is also often found on the bark of other broad-leaved trees and conifers.
This lichen is harvested commercially in the countries of central and southern Europe and usually exported to the French region of Grasse, where its fragrant compounds are extracted as absolutes or in other compositions.
It is widely used in modern perfumery, and its extracts are often used as fixatives and form the base notes of many fragrances. They are also key components in the perfumes of the Fougère and Chypre classes. Lichen has a distinct and complex odor that can be described as woody, intense and slightly sweet.
Customs and Traditions –
Evernia prunastri is a lichen known not only in modern perfumery but also for a long time.
The Turks used this lichen to make a jelly, while in ancient Egypt it was used for embalming, but also as a yeast for baking. Evernia can also be used to dye wool.
Today it is widely used in perfumery and its extracts often used as perfume fixatives.
This lichen has a pronounced turpentine smell which is, in fact, appreciated in some perfume compositions.
In parts of central Italy, it has been used as a biomonitoring of heavy metal deposition in urban, rural and industrial sites. Bioaccumulation studies for zinc, lead, chromium, cadmium and copper in lichen samples were performed five times at regular intervals between November 2000 and December 2001. As expected, rural areas showed less impact of these five heavy metals than to urban areas and industrial areas.
Among the contraindications it should be remembered that this lichen should be avoided by people with known skin sensitization problems.
Its use in perfumes is now severely limited by the regulations of the International Fragrance Association and many perfumes have been reformulated in recent years with other chemicals that have replaced the essences of this lichen.
Preparation Method –
Evernia prunastri is a lichen used since ancient times as an essence, as a gelatin, in embalming, but also as a yeast for baking and as a base for dyeing wool.
It is used in perfumery, both as a fixative and as an aromatic note and is decisive in chypre and fougère fragrances.
For the use of this lichen, a collection must be carried out which must follow very specific procedures.
Harvesting takes place before the leaves of the lichen host tree grow. After drying, the absolute essence is extracted through solvents, which being a potential allergen it is preferable that it constitutes no more than 0.1% in a composition. Lately it is replaced by the synthetic product evernyl.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.