The intensely yellow-green wolf lichen contains toxic vulpinic acid.The intensely yellow-green wolf lichen contains toxic vulpinic acid.

Wolf lichen – the beautiful poison

Wolf lichen is one of the most photographed subjects in Gränslandet. Who could resist taking a picture of dead pine or an old hay barn completely covered in the intensively yellow-green lichen? And, it’s a rare species. Not in Gränslandet, but in the rest of Scandinavia. It’s red-listed, which means that it’s in danger of becoming extinct unless special measures are taken. Protecting Gränslandet against exploitation is one such measure, which can hopefully save both the wolf lichen and many other endangered organisms.

A beautiful sun lover

Wolf lichen likes silver-grey sun-lit dead pines, so Gränslandet’s sparse old-growth forests and bog edges are perfect. Many forests in the rest of Scandinavia have grown too dense and shady, mainly through planting, encroachment and fire fighting. And there are few places that contain such abundance of old, sunlit dead wood as in Gränslandet – this is where wolf lichen really thrives.

Don’t chew it!

In the past, people put out pieces of meat with crushed glass and crumbled wolf lichen to poison wolves and foxes. The lichen contains vulpinic acid which paralyses the respiratory organs. The glass was used to perforate the intestines in the animals, so that the toxin could penetrate. Wolf lichen is so toxic, that the people handling the powder had to use a mask.

The most photographed subject in Gränslandet?The most photographed subject in Gränslandet?

Photos: Naturcentrum AB.