Posts Tagged ‘Blue Lichen’

I recently hiked around a local pond called Goose pond. It was cool that morning and mist was rising off the warm water. I didn’t see a single goose, but they will be here soon to wander through the cornfields looking for stray kernels. If you hike at a normal pace it takes about an hour to get around the pond, but it usually takes me 3 hours or more. I have to go slow if I want to see things like what I have posted here. This is usually quite a busy place with plenty of hikers, but not on this morning. I think it was too early. I saw quite a few lichens at the pond. This reindeer lichen (Cladonia rangiferina) grows in areas that are quite sunny and dry. This is a fructicose lichen, meaning it is shrubby looking.  These lichens grow on the ground rather than on trees or stones and are slow growing. The small one pictured could be decades old. In parts of Europe these lichen are eaten by reindeer. This is another fructicose lichen called beard lichen (Usnea.) It grows on trees instead of on the ground and is very common in pines and hemlocks in our area. It’s sometimes called old man’s beard. Most lichens are very sensitive to air pollution and will not grow where the air isn’t clean. Fringed wrinkle lichens (Tuckermannopsis Americana) always remind me of leaf lettuce. This type of lichen is foliose, or leaf like. These are also quite common in this area-on conifers especially-and can be quite colorful. When a large pine or hemlock falls the upper branches are often covered with this type of lichen. Our rocks are very old here. I took a picture of this one because it looked like it had been folded before it had fully cooled however many millions of years ago. It was covered in moss and lichens. I’ve been watching this blue lichen for over a year now. When I showed it in this blog last year I said it was purple, but my color finding software has corrected that mistake. This type of lichen is known as a Crustose or crusty lichen because it forms a flat crust that can’t be lifted or peeled off of whatever it is growing on. In my experience blue lichens are quite rare.Rock Tripe (Umbilicaria mammulata) is foliose lichen that likes to grow on boulders that are near water. I found several of these on this hike and they were all quite small. This one wasn’t much bigger than a dime. Rock tripe is edible and has saved the lives of people who were lost and starving in the past.This spot of yellow cructose lichen was also about the size of a dime and grew in full sun among mosses and other lichens. I think this might be a sulphur fire dot lichen (Caloplaca flavoirescens,) but I’m not 100% sure.  I don’t see too many yellow lichens.Orange is another color that I don’t see much of in the world of lichens, but I’m convinced that they can be just about any color we can imagine. The book Lichens of the North Woods by Joe Walewski lists only two or three orange lichens and none look like this one. I’d have to call it an orange cructose lichen, even though up close it looks like somebody spilled some type of chemical on this stone. This cructose lichen is called tile lichen (Lecidea tesselata) and it grows on stone in full sun. It is described as a “chalky white or blue gray surface forming circular patches with sunken black disks.” The only thing about my identification that bothers me is that the black disks are not sunken, but actually stand proud of the surrounding surface. You have to zoom in quite close to see this. The chances of my finding a single stone for a second time are very slim unless it is a large boulder that is easy to remember. I took a picture of this stone because I liked its colors and grain patterns, but I didn’t see the small dark spot in the center until I looked at the photo.  As it turns out this dark spot is midnight blue, according to my color finding software. I don’t really know if this is a lichen or a mineral embedded in the stone but midnight blue is a rare color indeed. Azurite and malachite can be deep blue, so it is possible that it is a mineral and not a lichen. The trouble is I don’t remember where the stone is so I can take a second look with a magnifying glass. I’m fairly certain that this is an example of a liverwort rather than a lichen because it was growing in the wet, saturated sand at the water’s edge. A liverwort is a flowerless, spore producing plant. Liverworts like wet places but I haven’t seen too many lichens growing in wet sand.  A closer look shows a “vein” (nerve) running down the center of each leave and lichens don’t have this feature that I know of. Liverworts get their name from early herbalists who thought that some of these plants resembled a human liver.

The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask ~ Nancy Wynne Newhall

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