The following points highlight the eight major importance of lichens. The importance are: 1. Early Colonisers 2. Food 3. Dyes 4. Perfumes 5. Medicines 6. Air Pollution 7. Fires 8. Damaging Buildings.
Importance # 1. Early Colonisers:
Lichens are early or pioneer colonisers of barren dry and naked rocks, cliffs, mountains and new terrains. During their growth lichens etch the rocks and cliffs by secreting acids. It produces minute crevices where organic matter accumulates. It paves the way for growth of mosses and grasses.
Importance # 2. Food:
In tundra, Cladonia rangifera (Reindeer Moss) constitutes the staple food of reindeer, caribou, musk ox, etc. Certaria islandica (Iceland Moss) is used as a food article in Iceland, Sweden and Norway. Lecanora esculenta is regarded as bread of heaven by Jews. In Bellary district, Parmelia (Rock Flower) is a table delicacy. Endocarpon miniatum (Stone Mushroom) is a vegetable in Japan.
Importance # 3. Dyes:
Orcein, a biological stain, is obtained from Rocella tinctoria. The latter was also the source of litmus before the advent of synthetic product. Litmus is a pH indicator.
Importance # 4. Perfumes:
Scented incense is got from species of Ramalina and Evemia. Delicate perfume is got from Lobularia pulmonaria and Evemia prunastri.
Importance # 5. Medicines:
Usnic acid got from Usnea and Cladonia has antibiotic properties. It is used in preparation of ointment for bums and wounds. A number of drugs were obtained in older times from lichens.
Importance # 6. Air Pollution:
Decrease in lichen population of an area is indicative of air pollution particularly SO2 pollution.
Importance # 7. Fires:
In hot season, Usnea may produce forest fires.
Importance # 8. Damaging Buildings:
In humid areas lichen can grow on window panes, marble and cement damaging the buildings by their etching activity.