Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: UsneaThe pale green shub-like growths hanging from trees in the forests around Whistler is called usnea.  These bushy, coral-like fruticose lichens anchor to bark and branches on trees and hang like tinsel on a Christmas tree.  known as old man’s beard, usnea tends to thrive on dead and dying trees and is can appear to be harming their hosts.  They actually do no harm to trees and prefer dying ones for their lack of sunlight blocking canopy growth. 

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Usnea need sunlight for photosynthesis and clean, unpolluted air to grow well.  Air pollution significantly hinders their growth, especially sulfur dioxide. In heavily polluted environments growth is measured in millimetres, in good environments like Whistler and Garibaldi Park, they tend to grow 10 to 20 centimetres long. When you encounter forests with plentiful usnea draped over branches, you have found a bioindicator that the region has high quality, clean air.  Many of Whistler area hiking trails pass through sections of forest with astounding amounts of usnea hanging from branches.  Usnea is slow growing and is able to endure long periods of hot dry weather.  Sections of the Brew Lake and Newt Lake trails, for example, have rocky, exposed ridges with very little soil covering the bedrock.  These areas are frequently starved of water and the hardy trees that survive are desiccated and sickly looking.  These are great environments for usnea to grow and give these sections of brutalized trees a strangely haunting appearance.  Usnea has antibiotic properties and is effective to treat skin infections.  When applied to wounds, usnea appears to fight infection and speed up the healing process.  It is simply pulled from a tree, moistened with water and held against the wound.  The active component is usnic acid and according to Paul Bergner, in his book Medical Herbalism, its antibacterial properties have shown to be effective against staphylococcus bacteria, streptococcus bacteria and even a bacterium that commonly causes pneumonia.

Usnea at Green Lake in Whistler

Usnea on the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler

Usnea on the Panorama Ridge Trail

More Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking A to Z!

Bergschrund or abbreviated schrund: a crevasse that forms from the separation of moving glacier ice from the stagnant ice above. Characterized by a deep ...
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The Barrier formed as a result of huge lava flows from Clinker Peak on the west shoulder of Mount Price during the last ice age.  About thirteen thousand ...
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Tarn: a small alpine lake.  The word tarn originates from the Norse word tjorn which translates to English as pond.  In the United Kingdom, tarn is widely ...
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Coast Douglas-fir trees are medium to extremely large trees that you will encounter in Whistler and Garibaldi Park. They are the second tallest conifer ...
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Arête: a thin ridge of rock formed by two glaciers parallel to each other. Sometimes formed from two cirques meeting. From the French for edge or ridge.  Around ...
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Cairns, inukshuks or inuksuks are a pile or arrangement of rocks used to indicate a route, landmark or a summit.  The word cairn originates from the ...
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Columnar Jointing: bizarre looking columns of oddly angular rock formations that can be found in many places around Whistler and worldwide.  Generally ...
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Scree: from the Norse “skridha”, landslide.  The small, loose stones covering a slope. Also called talus, the French word for slope. Scree is mainly formed ...
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Amazing Hiking Trails in Whistler

The Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking Trails!

Ring Lake is a fantastically serene and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake, but considerably farther to hike to reach it. The 10 kilometre(6.2 mile) hike takes you through a rarely hiked forest, ...
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Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler. The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly ...
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Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly still wild ...
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Helm Creek is a cute, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek campground, Helm Creek descends further ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi Park Best Hiking by Month!

May is an extraordinarily beautiful time of year in Whistler. The days are longer and warmer and a great lull in between seasons happens. Whistler is fairly quiet ...
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June is a pretty amazing month to hike in Whistler and Garibaldi Park. The average low and high temperatures in Whistler range from 9c to 21c(48f/70f). ...
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July is a wonderful time to hike in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  The weather is beautiful and the snow on high elevation hiking trails is long ...
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August hiking in Whistler definitely has the most consistently great, hot weather.  You can feel the rare pleasure of walking across a glacier shirtless and ...
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Free Camping Gear Delivery to Garibaldi Park

Explore BC Hiking Destinations!

Whistler Hiking Trails

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