Oakmoss - Evernia prunastri from France
One of about ten species of lichens in the genus, oakmoss is extremely difficult to cultivate but grows naturally in unpolluted atmospheres. It has a very complex ecology and reproductive biology which has proven to produce little success in propagation.
In ancient times it was imported from Greece and Cyprus to Egypt for packing embalmed mummies. Today it is one of the finest perfumery materials available and there are few high-class perfumes that do not contain at least a touch of oakmoss essential oil.
Oakmoss is found growing mostly on oak trees, hence the name, but is also found on sycamore, maple, willow and alder trees as well as on fences, walls, rocks and soil. The lichen is collected in the dry winter weather then dried and brought to market.
Synonyms: none known
Origin: Central and Southern Europe, particularly France and Italy, the Balkans, and Morocco
Parts Used: whole plant
Aroma Description: mossy forest notes, earthy, hint of sweetness
Emotional Attributes: grounding, relaxing
Cosmetic Uses: perfumery; has excellent fixative properties
Culinary Uses: used as a leavening agent for making bread, and as a hops substitute in beer
Medicinal Attributes: antibiotic properties; used by the pharmaceutical industry
Element Association: Earth
Magical Associations: luck, prosperity
Astrological Association: Capricorn
Planetary Association: Jupiter
Season: Autumn, Winter
Aromatic Note: Base note
Essential Oil: Yes, a highly valued perfumery ingredient with excellent fixative properties. Concretes, absolutes, resins, resinoids, etc. are all manufactured, though they usually include several related lichen species to improve odor quality.
Mixes Well With: basil, burgundy pitch, cedar, chamomile, galbanum, guggul, juniper, labdanum, lavender, mugwort, myrrh, nutmeg, opoponax, palo santo wood, pine needles, pine resin, rose, spikenard, tonka beans, valerian root, etc.
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