Lobaria pulmonaria is a large, bright green, leaf-like lichen. It is commonly referred to by many different names including lungwort, lung lichen, or lung moss. It gets the name “lung” because it’s lobe like voluminous appearance resembles lung tissue.
Lobaria pulmonaria is described as a large, usually broad-lobed foliose lichen. Lobes are 8-30mm wide and up to 7cm long. The photobiont can be green or blue-green. This lichen is tomentose, meaning it has small hairs on the underside which is used as a characteristic for identification. With a chemical test using KOH, the underside will turn yellow to red.
This is the most widely distributed of the Lobaria species in north America, found in the upper midwest and eastern united states, as well at the pacific northwest. It is often found on trees and mossy rocks. Throughout history people have found many uses for this lichen including dyes and teas. It is also known to be a wild animal forage. These animals include deer and moose, as well as insects. Chipmunks and birds are known to use these lichens and others as nesting material. Due to its close appearance to lungs, people have also used it as a herbal remedy for a variety of lung diseases including tuberculosis and asthma.
Brodo IM, Sharnoff SD, Charnoff S. Lichens of North America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; 2001.10.07.16