Tourist Centre «The Arctic Circle»
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White carpet of the taiga

Anyone who has ever been in the taiga has met this beautiful carpet. Lichens of the genus Cladonia are the main food of reindeer, therefore they are sometimes called Yagel. And what is a Yagel? This is the unifying name of all lichens that serve as food for the horned owners of the forest. This is the most interesting variant of symbiosis in nature. This creature actually consists of two, and sometimes three organisms! Most often it is a community of fungi and algae, sometimes cyanobacteria also take root with them.

And such a close friendship took place because of the harsh conditions in which it is easier for everyone to survive together. In many experiments, when transferring lichens to a richer environment, one of the symbionts eats the other, no longer needing his help.

Lichens are attributed many useful properties and are widely used in medicine. It is known for certain about the ability of lichen acids (in particular usninic acid) to destroy pathogenic microorganisms and viruses. In addition, lichens are used in cooking. For example, adding lichens to flour prevents bread from spoiling quickly. And the unusual feature of lichen starch makes it possible to make jellies enriched with minerals and vitamins.

When the weather is dry, this lovely carpet becomes very fragile, and can lose its fluffy appearance under the shoes of tourists. That's why we always try to walk along trodden earthen paths or stones, to not disturb the beauty of the taiga nature. Be careful, too, because to grow by 10 cm, he needs more than one year!

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