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Sticta pulmonaria (Hook)

Synonyms: Lobaria pulmonaria (L.), Sticta pulmonacea (Ach.), lungmoss, oak lungs, tree lungwort

Order: Stictaceae

Description: Sticta is a lichen with a wide leafy thallus, divided and apparently cut off at the ends, with wavy margins, green-brown, the surface in dips and ridges, the underside with variegated colouring reflecting the contours. It is found throughout Europe and grows on oak bark and more rarely on heather stems and mossy rocks.

Parts used: dried thallus


Constituents: stictic, sticinic, norstitic, gyrophoric, thelophoric and related acids; fatty acids (including palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids), mucilage (including arabitol), tannins, proteins, sterols (ergosterol, fucosterol)

Actions: astringent, pulmonary demulcent, expectorant, mucolytic, orexigenic.

Indications: bronchitis, asthma

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: This remedy is applicable to irritable respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and asthma, and is specifically indicated in children's coughs. It is locally healing and soothing. It has recently been found that the lungwort lichens contain antibiotic chemicals that are effective against the kind of bacteria that cause tuberculosis and many other chest infections.

Combinations: Sticta may be combined with Tussilago, Lobelia and Marrubium in bronchitis.

Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)

Dried lichen: 1-2g or by infusion

Liquid Extract: 1:1 in 25% alcohol, 1-2ml


Additional Comments: The Doctrine of Signatures decreed that the lungwort lichens were suitable for chest disorders on the grounds of their pouched, lung-like appearance. Lungwort herb (Pulmonaria officinalis L.) of the borage family,  with its characteristically variegated leaves, and two to three blue-coloured flowers, has many of the same uses, although it is more astringent in character and has an extra anticatarrhal action.



BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.

Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.

Mabey, R. (ed.) 1991 The Complete New Herbal, Penguin, London.

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.

Weiss, R.F. 1991 Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, Beaconsfield.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.


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Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals