Usnea barbata / Angi angi
Usnea barbata a.k.a. Angi angi in Aotearoa.
2/3rds of the land where we are staying is covered in native forest, and it's dripping with an abundance of Usnea.
Usnea grows on trees like an "Old Man's Beard", cascading from the trees looking much like a white beard. We know that the trees are the lungs of our planet & Usnea is also called "Lungs of the Forest", it's also a natural remedy that can protect our lungs from infections.
Usnea is not a plant but a lichen, which is actually a complex relationship between an algae & a fungus.
Usnea has a long history of medicinal use in many cultures. It's known to be antibacterial, antiviral & antifungal and is used to help speed the healing of respiratory, urinary & reproductive tract infections.
I've used Usnea powdered directly onto wounds to prevent infection & speed healing (was quite extraordinary on a gnarly staph infection).
I also use it in a tincture form & as a decoction to boost the immune system. Also for sore throats, acute/chronic lung infections & bronchitis.
It can be taken internally for urinary tract infections or used in a sitz bath for thrush. I'm currently adding small amounts to my daily infusions or bone broths for an extra immunity boost.
Much care is needed when gathering Usnea (as with ALL foraging). Do not rip Usnea from the trees! Usnea is very slow growing, so the best way to gather Usnea for medicinal use is to pick it up from the ground or off fallen branches. After a storm is the best time to do this. Be sure to ID accurately as the commonly named 'old man's beard' variety is not the medicinal variety (which is angi angi / Usnea barbata).
Make sure you're gathering from a clean site as Usnea will soak up heavy metals & contaminants in the soil. I find it on most bushwalks in established forests, & always find bits of it stuffed in all my pockets and bags...
When the Usnic acid content is high (and therefore most potent medicinally) the Usnea turns an orange color - so these are the best pieces to collect.
I've been using Usnea a lot in natural dyeing, it creates a lovely rich reddish orange / brown color on wool.