A Popular History of British Lichens.
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Passages regarding colour/dye lichens from several Chapters

A Popular History of British Lichens, comprising an account of their structure, reproduction, uses, distribution and classification. By W. Lauder Lindsay, M.D., Fellow of the Botanical and Royal Physical Societies of Edinburgh, etc. Lovell Reeve, 5, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Lontoo 1856. […]

Chapter II. General Characters of British Lichens.

The colour of the Lichen-thallus is as varied as its form, and as subject to alteration by external circumstances, terrestrial and aerial. It is generally greenish, greyish, or brownish; frequently also whitish, yellowish, reddish, and blackish; or it possesses various shades and combinations of these colours. The colouring matters on which these depend are confined to the cortical layer of the thallus. Of this the student may convince himself by tearing across any very dark-coloured thallus, such as the bronze-coloured or almost pitchy thallus of Parmelia Fahlunensis, the external or cortical layer of which is of a deep brown colour, while the centre consists of a white, cottony, spongy, medullary tissue, between which and the cortical layer there may be seen a thin layer of green gonidia. This colouring matter is in many species easily extracted by boiling water, and other solvents, and has been abundantly applied by the peasantry of Scotland, and other countries, in their house hold arts, and especially to the dyeing of home-spun vestments.

[…] It is well known that many dye species are richer in colorific matter at certain seasons, at which they are consequently uniformly collected, than at others.

Chapter VI. Classification

Genus I. USNEA, Bill.

[…] The economical applications of U. barbata are not important, but they are numerous and varied. In some parts of the world it is eaten by wild animals, or is collected and preserved as winter fodder for domestic animals. Bartram states that in Pennsylvania it has been used to yield an orange dye, and Humboldt mentions its use as a dye species in South America.


Genus I. CORNICULARIA, Schreb.

[…] C.jubala has a wide geographical range, extending as far north as Ross's Islet and and Little Table Island in the Arctic regions. Its thecæ are small, narrowly oboval, eight-spored; its spores are minute, ellipsoid-oval or roundish, colourless, double-walled. It would appear to possess a certain amount of nutrient properties, being frequently eaten in winter by the Lapland reindeer as a substitute for the Cladonia rangiferina: to enable these useful animals to feed on it with less difficulty, the Laplanders cut down the firs on which it grows. It ia said also to be capable of yielding a red dye; we have not found it to exhibit any colorific properties, but we have frequently noticed the paper in old herbariums stained red or orange by various Cornicularias, especially some North American species. Some foreign species appear, in a slight degree, to possess nutrient and demulcent properties, but none have been used to any extent in medicine or the arts.

[…] [C. Flavicans] Its cortical layer is very dense, consisting of almost solid, cylindrical filaments very closely united: iodine communicates to it a rich blue colour. It is the seat of a beautiful yellow colouring matter, probably similar to that of the following species, and has apparently been similarly employed in dyeing.

[…] [C. Vulpina] Its cortical layer contains, disseminated through it in the form of small grains of a resinoid appearance, a beautiful colouring matter, called vulpinic acid, which is easily ex tracted by various solvents, and has been used in Sweden and Norway to dye woollen stuffs. The Swedes call this species "Ulf-mossa" (Wolf's-moss), from a belief that it is poisonous to wolves; this is very problematical, but certain it is that it is used as a poison to these animals: Pontoppidan states that the bait is usually the carcase of some animal smeared and stuffed with a mixture of this Lichen in a powdered state, and pounded glass.



[…] [R. Scopulorum] This species has a somewhat wide geographical range, and occurs as far south as the Falkland Islands and Kerguelen's Land. It has been used to yield a red dye; so high an opinion did Lightfoot form of its tinctorial qualities, that he spoke of it as a formidable rival to the Roccella. R. farinacea has also been said to possess similar colorific properties.


Genus I. CETRARIA, Ach.

[…] [C. juniperina] It yields readily to boiling water and other solvents a beautiful yellow colouring matter, which has been employed in domestic dyeing by the Swedes. It once enjoyed celebrity as a specific in jaundice, probably on the similia similibus principle, from some fancied connection between its colour and that of the skin in this troublesome disease.

[…] * Cramer, De Usu Lichenis Islandici, Erlangen, 1780:
Ebeling, de Quassia et Cetraria Islandica, Glasgow, 1779:
Davidson on removal of bitter taste and lichenons odour of Iceland Moss, 'Jameson's Journal,' 1840:
and Transact. of Edin. Soc. of Arts, June 20, 1838:
Proust in Journal de Physique, vol. iii
[C. islandica] And, lastly, the brown colouring-matter of its thallus has been applied by the Icelanders to the dyeing of woollen stuffs.*


Genus I. UMBILICARIA, Hoffm.

[…] [U. pustulata] Subjected to ammoniacal maceration, this species yields a very rich orchill, and is largely imported by the London orchill-maker from Norway and Sweden under the commercial designation of "Pustulatous Moss." Linnaeus speaks of it as yielding a red dye, and Withering as capable of furnishing also a black paint.

[…] [Umblicaria] Some varieties, probably from particular localities, are said to yield violet and red dyes; others, or perhaps the same, are used, as in Iceland, to dye woollen stuffs brownish or greenish; and Linnseus speaks of the variety deusta as yielding a paint much used in Sweden, called "Tousch." In our own experiments on the dyeing properties of Lichens we found many of the Umbilicarias capable of yielding an orchill; but the var. cylindrica of this species was a remarkable exception, fur nishing no purple or red tinge on ammoniacal maceration.


Genus I. STICTA, Schreb.

[…] [S. pulmonaria] Its colouring matter has been largely applied to the dyeing of stockings, yarn, and woollen goods, by the peasantry in various parts of the Scotch Low lands, where the Lichen is one of the "crottles;" in the north of Ireland, where it is called "Hazel Rag," or "Hazel Crottles;" in Herefordshire, where it is called "Rags," and in other English counties; in the Isle of Man; as well as in different parts of Germany and France.



* For observations on the minute anatomy of Urceolaria, vide Dr. Schuchardt in 'Botanische Zeitung,' March 2nd, 1855, 'Zur Kenntniss der Gattungen Urceolaria und Lecidea.'

[…] [U. calcarea] In Wales, Shetland, and other parts of Britain, it has been used by the peasantry to yield a scarlet dye. We have found several of the Urceolarias to resemble the tartareous Lecanoras in their colorific properties, yielding like them fine qualities of orchill. The Lecanora tartarea, as formerly collected in the Western High lands for Cudbear-making, was frequently mixed with this species.*

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