|Letharia vulpina - Winthrop, Washington|
On a more contradictory note, this lichen was also believed to be medicinal, It was boiled and used to wash sores or wounds, and in a weak solution it was drank as a tea to help with internal problems, however some believed a mask should be worn when preparing it so as not to breath in it's powder.
Other uses for Letharia vulpina were to create a yellow dye which was used for coloring both wool and basket fibers, and that is how I used it.
While on vacation with family in Winthrop, Washington, my sister-in-law came in from a short walk and said, "Do you think you can dye with this?" In her had was a clump of Letharia vulpina. The lichen had blown off a tree and she had found it lying in a ditch along the roadside. Actually, the ditches were filled with this lichen which had blown down in a wind storm. We gathered up a bag full. Once home, I boiled up a tiny batch for dye, simmering it for about an hour, then dropped in a small hank of unmordanted wool yarn and let that simmer for another hour. Lichens are known to have tannins which act as a natural mordant, so no other mordants are necessary for light fastness. I wore no mask and suffered no consequences.
|Yellow dye from Letharia vulpina|