In our moist climate, mosses and lichens grow in profusion. You see many trees encased and draped with these non-vascular plants. One impressive lichen is called Methuselah's Beard (Usnea longissima). As with all lichens, it is a composite organism with both plant and fungus characteristics.
It hangs from trees in long masses that make you think of the Old Testament patriarch who was reported in the bible to have lived 969 years. These beards aren't that old, but look like they've grown for a very long time.
Methuselah's Beard (click here for a fact sheet) used to have a much wider distribution around the world, but it has been declining due to habitat and environmental changes. It is still common along the Pacific region from Northern California to Alaska. Even where it remains, it has a spotty distribution, possibly related to its asexual reproduction through fragmentation of the thallus base.
It's most frequently found on old growth and mature conifer and hardwood trees in forests with high humidity such as coastal ranges. As these trees are harvested, the habitat is reduced.
The colour ranges from pale green to a yellowish-silver tint. This closeup with flash made it turn white.
First Nations people and herbalists have used it for purported antiseptic and antibiotic properties, but because of its tenuous status, harvesting or damage should be avoided. -- Margy