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Harvesting Usnea

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Our slow life continues, even in these uncertain and difficult times.  We have actually just continued to live much the same, just being a little more careful with our daily lives and who we interact with. Luckily, nature remains at our disposal as we live in a very sparsely populated area and the forest is our backyard. We know not everyone is able to live as we do, but even if you can't get out to nature right now, this is a great time to start thinking about the positive things you can do once you are able to go out and how we can keep up the slow down our consumption, and use what we have.

I decided to start our slow life blog with a simple project we have been working on, usnea tincture. Don't worry, we'll get straight to the fabrication of the tincture, after a brief intro to what it is and how to use it, because if there is one thing that I find incredibly annoying, it's boring anecdotes that take up 3 paragraphs before you even get to the recipe.

What is it?

Usnea is a genus of mostly pale grayish-green fruticose lichens that grow like leafless mini-shrubs or tassels anchored on bark or twigs. The genus is in the family Parmeliaceae. It grows all over the world. Members of the genus are commonly called old man's beard, or beard lichen, which you can easily see why...

Why use it?

It is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal.

It's known to help staph infections, heal wounds, respiratory issues, allergy symptoms, sore throat, fungal infections, urinary infections, sinus infections, vaginal infections, the list goes on and on!!!


How to use it?

Used internally as a tincture, which we will describe how to make below, or grind it up and used externally in balms or salves, that will be for a later post.



(we doubled the recipe as we had harvested a lot)

1 ounce fresh or dried usnea, chopped up

4 ounces water

2.5 ounces pure organic cane or grain alcohol

Ratio of herb to liquid as weight to volume – 1:5 whether fresh or dried (That is NOT the same for all herbs)

  1. Place chopped usnea in a stainless steel pot, add water. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn to the lowest setting, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Your water should reduce down to approximately 2.5 ounces to match the amount of alcohol to be used.
  2. Take off the heat, remove cover and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Pour usnea and the infused liquid into an 8 ounce canning jar (or reuse a glass jar you have laying around).
  4. Pour measured alcohol over the mixture and mix well.
  5. Cover and shake daily for two weeks.
  6. Strain and bottle into an amber or other dark colored bottle.

Dosage for this tincture is 2-3 dropperfuls 3x/day as needed, for adults. (As always, check with your general practitioner before you take any natural supplements)


Think, dream, explore.





DIY foraging slow living wildcraft

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