Not a moss, but actually a lichen, reindeer moss is among the showiest of the group known as filigree lichens. For their size, the creamy-white plants are among the most distinctive of our native plants. Slow-growing and long-lived, the delicately and intricately branched plants can develop into nicely rounded mounds about 6" in height and 12" in diameter. In color and form, the plants are reminiscent of certain types of coral. Their appearance is the same at any time of the year.
Reindeer moss occurs naturally here in poor, sandy soil, in partial shade to nearly full sun. George Schenk states in Moss Gardening that reindeer moss can be readily cultivated even on rocks if given a small pocket of soil in which to establish. In dry weather the plants become hard and crisp; when moisture returns they quickly become soft and pliant again.
We have not yet been able to identify this species, which is native here, but we will continue to try. Its range of cultivation is uncertain. Similar species of Cladonia occur from the Arctic to at least as far south as Florida. It is likely that this species is adapted to the range of zones indicated, and perhaps beyond.