It can be used as a yellow dye which requires no mordant. In the past is was mainly used to dye basket materials and fibers. As a medicine, it was boiled and taken in weak solution for internal problems, and as a stronger solution for external cleansing of wounds. This lichen is so poisonous that the Achomawi in Northern California used it to make poison arrowheads.
So how did it get the common name of Wolf "moss"? Well, that comes from the Europeans. They used it destructively , by mixing it with ground glass and meat to poison and kill wolves. Vulpinic acid is toxic, though the ground glass might have been enough alone to kill the wolves.
If you look REAL close and study this lichen you can see the sacred geometrical shapes and patterns within it. Though it contains the base shape of a triskel (triangle), it actually follows the regeneration functioning of the pentad, where the whole is in each part. Very cool.
So why am I smitten with this brilliant yellow-green lichen? The first time I saw it was 2 years ago while visiting the Grünewald Guild. Since then I have thought of it often. It was one of the many things I was looking forward to seeing again when I arrived here back in early August. I decided that I needed to honor this little lichen by capturing it's essence into a tapestry. And so my first project while on artist residency was to study the lichen, sketch it, weave a tapestry and create a little book to honor it. Oh, and while I've been here I took a one-day paper-making class, where we added some of this lichen to the paper bath. I am pleased with the final results.