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I have used sphagnum moss a couple of times but only the sanitized kind right of off a tree limb. It does have a tendency to leave some residual particles of plant matter behind, but it seems to get the job done and I believe it has medicinal values.
Howard Barker
My personal favorite is the lichen that grows in spruce and fir trees. I am not sure what it is called. In fact I have been trying to find out it's name for quite some time. Out west it is called Old Man's Beard or Usnea. I don't know the scientific name or even if it is the same stuff for that matter.
Jeff Stevens
Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong but I think there are two kinds; one is light colored and one is dark. (sometimes they grow together) Your right, out west we call it old mans beard, Their scientific names are Usnea and Alectoria but not sure which one is which. Has several uses; medicinal, edible and utilitarian (aside from your suggested use which I am going to try).
Kelly Harlton
It can be used as is, but what I generally do is grab a handful, squeeze out as much water as I can, and then use it. If I was in a long term camp (more than overnight, at the least) I might be bothered to dry some inside my shelter or on a stick near the fire. Oh, and do make sure to pick out at least *most* of the pine needles that is mixed up with the moss. Makes good field dressings, if nothing else.
Par Leijonhufvud