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Posts Tagged ‘Fringed Wrinkle Lichen’

This post was supposed to be part 2 of a lichen post I did back on November 29 but I’ve dilly dallied so long it would probably be hard for all of us to remember what was in that one, so I’ll just start anew. I do these lichen posts because people seem to be mystified by lichens and afraid they won’t be able to identify them. I’ll be the first to admit that identifying lichens isn’t easy, but I try to show lichens that are easier to identify than other species in the hope that you’ll give them a try. Often times when I go hunting lichens I start with a smooth barked tree like that in the above photo. As you can see it’s absolutely peppered with them and I can tell without even zooming in that there are at least 3 different lichens in that photo.

One of the lichens on that tree was this script lichen. Script lichens are easy to identify as such but breaking them down into species can be difficult. I think this one is the common script lichen (Graphis scripta.) Script lichens seem to be fussy about what kind of trees they grow on and the common script lichen prefers trees with smooth bark, like maple or beech.

The script lichen’s common name comes from its apothecia, which are its fruiting bodies where its spores are produced. They look like ancient runes that someone has scratched into the body of the lichen (Thallus.) Some appear as horizontal lines, some can be vertical or angular but most appear random like those in the photo. Some, like the asterisk lichen can be very beautiful but even though I’ve searched for an example for many years I’ve never seen one.

This script lichen had a very dark thallus and isn’t like any other that I’ve seen. I’m not sure what would make it so dark, but it might have been the cold. I’ve seen cold change the color of other lichens from gray to blue. From what I’ve seen of script lichens the body of the lichen is there year round, but only when it starts to get cold in the fall do the fruiting bodies appear. Many lichens choose to produce their spores in the winter and I’ve never been able to find out why.

One of the most common lichens seen on trees in this region is the common green shield lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata.)  They are large, leafy, round or oval lichens that are kind of a yellow green color, and colonies of them can cover nearly the entire trunk of a tree. They are usually very wrinkled and in fact the caperata part of the scientific name means wrinkled.

Seeing fruiting bodies (Apothecia) on green shield lichens is rare in my experience but they always seem to have abundant soredia, which are tiny, powdery vegetative reproductive bodies that can be carried off by the wind or rain to form new lichens. The soredia form on the body (Thallus) of the lichen in pustule like areas called soralia. They are very similar to other vegetative reproductive growths called isidia, which are stalked growths on the thallus. Some Native American tribes dried and crushed this lichen into a powder and used it to treat burns.

Bottlebrush shield lichen (Parmelia squarrosa) is very common but is also easily passed by because it often grows quite small and I find that its pale gray color blends well with the color of the bark of the trees that it grows on, like smooth barked maples. You can just see small shiny spherical dots on a few of its lobes in this photo. These are granular vegetative reproductive structures called isidia. When a squirrel runs up a tree and breaks these granular parts of it off, the broken parts will start new lichens. Lichens books say that fruiting bodies (Apothecia) are common on this lichen but I’ve never seen them.

The bottlebrush part of this lichen’s common name comes from its dense, dark mat of rhizines on its undersides. These rhizines can be thought of as tiny rootlets which help anchor the lichen to the bark of trees. When they are branched like a bottle brush they are said to be squarrose. This lichen will also grow on mossy rocks and likes shaded, humid places.

Yet another shield lichen usually found on trees is the hammered shield lichen (Parmelia sulcata.) Its common name comes from the way its network of sharp ridges and depressions makes it look like it has been hammered out of a sheet of steel. Fruiting bodies are said to be rare on this lichen, which explains why I’ve never seen them. Instead it relies on powdery, whitish soredia to reproduce. It also has rhizines like the bottlebrush shield, but they don’t seem as bushy and noticeable. Hammered shield lichens are relatively small and though the book Lichens of North America says they can even be weedy, I don’t see them very often.

It’s very common to be walking through the woods and find twigs and branches with large, leafy (Foliose) lichens like the one pictured growing on them. These lichens can be difficult to identify because they change color drastically when they dry out. Though this one appears on the gray side its normal color when wet would be a deep, olive brown. I think this one is in the Tuckermannopsis group, probably the fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermannopsis ciliaris.) Lichens in this group often have “wrinkled” in their common name because that’s the way they look. They’re very pretty and easy to see and I often find them on birch and white pine branches.

Fruiting bodies (Apothecia) are common on the fringed wrinkle lichen. They are also quite large and easily seen; shiny and brownish green. Tiny bead like structures called pycnidia line the margins of the apothecia. They are yet another type of vegetative reproductive structure that will form new lichens if they break off. This lichen or family of lichens is very common and I see them almost every time I go into the woods.

There are many beard lichens and many are abundant in this region, but one that I don’t see quite as often as others is the fishbone beard lichen (Usnea filipendula.) It grows high in the treetops and when I find it it’s almost always on a fallen branch, as this one was.

The fishbone beard lichen gets its common name not surprisingly, from its resemblance to the skeleton of a fish. Lichens in this genus contain usnic acid and have strong antiseptic and antibiotic properties. They’ve been used medicinally since ancient times throughout the world to stop bleeding and heal wounds, and also against lung and fungal infections. Native Americans moistened the lichens and used them as a poultice for boils and wounds.  Beard lichens are still used today in antiseptic skin creams, deodorants, and mouth washes. It is said that about 50% of lichen species have antibiotic properties and research to develop medicines from them is ongoing worldwide.

Man isn’t the only one who uses lichens. This bird’s nest had many beard lichens woven into it. One study that I read about said that 5 different species of lichen were found in just a tiny hummingbird’s nest.

Concentric boulder lichen (Porpidia crustulata) gets its name from the way its black apothecia grow in concentric (or nearly so) rings around their center. The gray body of the lichen forms a crust on stone and that makes it a crustose lichen. This lichen is relatively rare here and I only see them once in a blue moon. They grow in sun or shade and don’t ever seem to change color.

Another shield lichen that’s very common in this area is the peppered rock shield (Xanthoparmelia conspersa.) It grows on stone in full sun and I usually find it on old stone walls. It’s a big lichen, often 10 inches or more across, that seems to be almost always fruiting, with crinkly brown fruiting bodies (Apothecia.) Though it must produce an abundance of spores this lichen also reproduces vegetatively, again by the granular vegetative reproductive structures called isidia, like the bottlebrush shield lichen we saw earlier. When bits of the lichen are broken off the isidia increase its chances of starting a new colony. Isidia also increase photosynthetic efficiency.

Here is a closer look at the peppered rock shield’s apothecia. They are big enough to see without any magnification and are an orangey brown color.  You can also see bits of the insidia. It’s clear that this lichen is all about continuation of the species and it does well at it. One stone wall I know of has them on almost every stone in the wall.

The golden moonglow lichens (Dimelaena oreina) that I see are usually about an inch across but they can get much bigger. They grow in full sun on granite and don’t seem to change color when they dry out like many other lichens do. The one in the photo was producing spores and that’s something I don’t see this lichen do very often. If you spend much time in cemeteries you have probably seen this pretty lichen, because it seems to like growing on smooth, polished stone. It is a crustose lichen, so removing it from any kind of stone would be a challenge. When lichens grow on glass the acids in them can actually etch the glass and this is a problem in the big European cathedrals, especially.

Rock foam lichens (Stereocaulon saxatile) grow directly on stone in full sun. When dry this lichen is very stiff and brushy and almost seems as if it would cut you but caribou will eat it when they can’t find reindeer lichens. This lichen is often used by prospectors because a simple lab test on it will show what type of stone it was growing on and what minerals, like copper for instance, are in the stone.

Lichens, as I hope these lichen posts have shown, can be very beautiful, and one of the prettiest I’ve seen lately is the frosted comma lichen (Arthonia caesia.) Its blue gray apothecia against a yellowish gray body make it easy to identify but you have to look closely to see these features. This one was no more than a half inch across and the blue apothecia were about the size of a period made by a pencil on paper.  I hope you’ll take the time to look for it and other lichens on your next nature walk. They can be found virtually anywhere at any season, and are always interesting and often beautiful.

We keep seeing things all our life, yet seldom do we notice them. ~Avijeet Das

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1. Wrinkled Crust Lichen Phlebia radiata

A couple of posts ago I showed what I suspected was a lichen that I found growing on a pine log. Though it felt fleshy like a fungus I had the idea in my mind that it “should be” a lichen, and so when I got home I looked through hundreds (literally) of lichen photos with no luck identifying it. Luckily Rick from the Between Blinks Blog had seen examples before and knew it to be a crust fungus called Phlebia radiata, or wrinkled crust fungus. These curious fungi lay flat on whatever they grow on much like crustose lichens would, and radiate out from a central point.  They have no stem or gills or pores. Most interesting about them to me are the various bright shades of pink and orange they display. This is a fungus that doesn’t mind cool weather, so it is often seen at this time of year. Thanks again for the ID Rick!

 2. Green Algae Trentepohlia aurea

So let’s see, this one I showed in a post from about a month ago is orange like a fungus, grows on stone like a lichen, and is hairy like a moss. I guessed that it might be some kind of strange orange moss, but I’d never seen anything like it. If I hadn’t stumbled across it online while searching for something else I never would have guessed that it was actually a green algae called Trentepohlia aurea. I know, I said the same thing-“it isn’t green, it’s orange.” These algae get their bright orange color from a pigment known as hematochrome, which forms in nitrogen starved algae and protects and hides the algae’s green chlorophyll. It can be orange, yellow or red and it also colors some lichens, making their identification even more difficult.

 3. Beard Lichen

Bristly beard lichen (Usnea hirta) is often found on the ground but it doesn’t grow there; the wind blows them out of the trees. Many lichens like sunlight and grow in the tops of trees where there is less shade from the leaves. Native Americans used lichens medicinally for thousands of years and lichens in the Usnea group were described in the first Chinese herbal, written about 500 AD. Today scientists estimate that about 50% of all lichen species have antibiotic properties.

 4. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

Last year I found fringed wrinkle lichens (Tuckermannopsis Americana) growing in a birch tree near a pond and they are still there this year. The color of this lichen varies greatly from when it is wet or dry, but its wrinkled surface and the way that its fruiting bodies (Apothecia) appear on the lobe margins help identify it. The purple dye used to color the togas of the rich and famous in ancient Rome came from lichens, and many other dye colors can also be extracted from them.  Some of the rich colors used in Scottish “Harris Tweed” also come from lichens.

5. Indian Pipe.

The seed capsule of this Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) split open to release its seeds. The seeds are so small as to be nearly microscopic, and are wind borne.  Each plant will release thousands of seeds, but if they don’t fall in exactly the right conditions, they won’t grow. Indian pipes need both the right fungi and the right tree roots to grow because they don’t photosynthesize and make their own food. Instead they parasitize both the fungi and the trees they grow on.

6. Cattails.

Cattail (Typha latifolia) seeds are also borne on the wind, but there will be plenty left when the female red wing blackbirds come back in the spring. They and many other birds use the seeds to line their nests. Native Americans had uses for every part of this plant and one of their names for cattail meant “fruit for papoose’s bed.” Even the pollen was harvested and used in bread.

Some of the information on Native American uses for cattails used here comes from the folks at The International Secret Society of People Who Sleep with Cattail Pillows. No, I’m not kidding. Their motto is “You’ll Do Good Deeds, If You Sleep on Seeds!”

7. Bolete Mushroom

This tiny mushroom was all dried out but its dime sized cap had plenty of pores on its underside that were worth taking a look at. These pores are tubes where the mushroom’s spores are produced. Mushrooms with pores instead of gills are called boletes. If a shelf or bracket fungus has pores it is called a polypore.

 8. Broom Moss aka Dicranum scoparium

Broom Moss (Dicranum scoparium) is a North American native that grows on soil, stones or logs, but I usually find it on the ground in semi shaded places that don’t get strong sunlight. The scoparium part of the scientific name comes from the Latin scopae, which means “broom” and the common name broom moss comes from the way that all of the curved leaf tips point in the same direction, looking as if someone swept them with a broom. Scopae also describes the brush like hairs used to collect pollen that are found on the abdomens and legs of some bees.

 9. Woodpecker Tree

When you come upon a tree that looks like this in the forest you might think that a bear had gone after it, but this damage was caused by a woodpecker-a Pileated woodpecker, to be exact. I see trees that look like this all of the time, and have even seen trees cut in half with their top on the ground. I wish I had gotten the large pile of woodchips at the base of the tree in this photo, but I wasn’t thinking.

10. Juniper Berrires

The fruit of an Eastern juniper (Juniperus virginiana) looks like a berry but it is actually a soft, fleshy cone. They are a deep, bluish purple color but are covered with a white wax coating that makes them appear lighter blue. The most common uses for the “berries” are as flavoring for cooked game or to flavor gin. Native Americans used them medicinally and in food.

11. Snow on Monadnock

Mount Monadnock has had its first snowfall, though the bright sunshine almost hides that fact in this photo. Once the snow really starts to fly bare granite won’t be seen up there again until late spring. I decided to climb to the summit one warm April day years ago and had to wade / crawl through waist deep snow. By the time I made it back down several hours later I looked like I had been swimming with my clothes on and even had to pour water out of my wallet and shoes. Climbing with no snowshoes was a foolish and dangerous thing to do, but at 18 I wasn’t always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow
.
~A.E. Housman

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I’ve been finding a lot of lichens lately and since I did a lichen post last year, I thought I’d put them all in one post again. I know that not all readers of this blog are interested in lichens but I hope posts like this might show how beautiful and fascinating they are. They can be found at any time of year growing just about anywhere and that makes winter just a little more exciting for me.

I don’t have any way to identify lichens microscopically or chemically, so the lichens in this post have been identified visually with the aid of guide books.

1. Scattered Rock Posy aka Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans

Scattered rock posy lichen (Rhizoplaca  subdiscrepans) is both beautiful and unusual with its brain like body (Thallus) and pale orange fruiting discs (Apothecia.) This one was growing on stone in full sun. It was very small-no bigger than a penny. Lichens are a good indicator of air quality, so if you see a lot of lichens where you live your air is of good quality. If you aren’t seeing them you might want to check into your local air quality.

 2. Script Lichen

Script Lichen (Graphis scripta) looks like someone took a pocket knife and stuck the tip into a powdery, grayish crustose lichen over and over again leaving small, dark slits. This one was about the size of a tennis ball and was growing on the bark of a maple tree near a stream. I’ve noticed through hunting lichens that many of them prefer high humidity and grow near lakes, ponds, and streams.

3. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen aka Porpidia albocaerulescens

Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen (Porpidia albocaerulescens) is a crustose lichen, meaning it grows like a crust on the substrate, in this case stone. I showed this lichen in my last post and said that I wasn’t sure of my identification because of the blue color of the fruiting discs. Since then I’ve seen other pictures of this lichen with nearly the same blue color. I’m still going to re-visit this one on a sunny day though, because descriptions say these discs should be light to dark gray.

4. Bitter Wart Lichen aka Pertusaria amara

I first saw this bitter wart lichen (Pertusaria amara) several months ago and it has taken me that long to identify it. It resembles several lichens known as toad skin lichens but I’m convinced that it isn’t one of those. One sure way to identify it would be to chew a tiny bit but my lichen book says that if I did I would have a bitter taste in my mouth for a “long time,” so I don’t think I’m ready to go there.  The bumpy, warty growths are part of the body (Thallus) and hide the fruiting bodies (Apothecia.)

5. Spotted Camoflage Lichen aka Melanohalea olivacea

I found this spotted camouflage lichen (Melanohalea olivacea) growing on a birch branch near a pond. It is a foliose lichen, meaning it looks leafy. The olive green color and tiny white spots (pseudocyphellae) that line the margins of some of the lobes and fruiting discs help to identify this one.

6. Poplar Sunburst Lichen

I’ve never seen poplar sunburst lichen (Xanthoria hasseana) growing on a poplar but I’ve found many growing on ornamental Bradford pear trees near a beaver pond. This is another foliose lichen and is very beautiful, in my opinion. These lichens like to grow on trees in open areas. This one was probably as long as an egg.

7. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

Fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermanopsis americana) is another common but beautiful foliose lichen. I see them growing mostly on birch branches near ponds. Like many lichens their color changes quite a lot when they dry out. They are dark brown when dry and on the greenish / lighter side when wet. You have to look carefully for lichens in trees. I’ve seen a tree covered with them standing next to a tree with none at all.

 8. Cumberland Rock Shield Lichen

Cumberland rock shield lichen (Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia) likes to grow on boulders and that’s where I found this one. The body (Thallus) is described as being “yellow-green to sometimes bluish green.” I’m not seeing that but my color finding software is. Being color blind, I can’t disagree. The fruiting discs (Apothecia) are “cinnamon to dark brown.”

 9. Cumberland Rock Sheild Lichen Close Up

This is a close up of apothecia on a Cumberland rock shield lichen. Technically apothecia are “fungal reproductive structures, in which the fungus reproduces itself through the production of spores” This is not the only way that lichens reproduce, but it is common.

10. Sea Storm Lichen aka Cetrelia chicitae-olivetorum

Sea Storm Lichen (Cetrelia chicitae-olivetorum) gets its common name from the way the lobes of the body (Thallus) undulate and have powdery or granular margins. These two attributes reminded whoever named the lichen of storm tossed ocean waves.  This foliose lichen likes to grow on mossy rocks in shady places and that is exactly where this one grew.

 11. Powdery Sunburst Lichen

Powdery Sunburst Lichen (Xanthomendoza ulophyllodes) was growing on a stone in a stone wall. This foliose lichen is easy to see, even when it’s small, because of its bright orange yellow color. This lichen really likes moisture and is often found growing near channels that carry water on stone or bark.

By stripping off the bonds of individuality the lichens have produced a world-conquering union. ~David Haskell in his book “The Forest Unseen”

I hope you’ll take a liking to lichens! Thanks for stopping in.

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This post contains some of the things I’ve seen that haven’t fit into other posts for whatever reason.

 1. Holes in Snow

I wonder what caused these evenly spaced, rectangular holes in the snow. It must have been the wind. After a warm day and very warm, rainy night all of this snow is gone now.

 2. Frullania Liverwort

I’ve wondered for a long time whether these growths on the bark of trees were mosses or lichens. It turns out they are neither; according to the book Outstanding Mosses and Liverworts of Pennsylvania and Nearby States they are liverworts.  The book says that fall through spring, when rain is plentiful, is the best time to find liverworts.

 3. Frullania Liverwort

A closer look at this liverwort. There are mosses that resemble the Frullania liverwort, but this plant is easily identified by its small scaly leaves.  This is the only liverwort that thrives in dry locations. A few others can survive in very sheltered parts of dry areas, but most grow in damp forests or on stream side rocks. Like mosses and lichens, liverworts are found on rocks, trees, rotting logs, and bare soil.

 4. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

There is no doubt that this is the fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermanopsis Americana.) It grows near my house and is one of my favorites. I visit it often and the changes I see it go through are amazing. One day it can be completely dried out and drab looking and then, after a rain, plump right back up again and look more colorful. I think that watching this lichen has taught me more about lichens than my lichen book.

 5. Beard Lichen

This beard lichen grows near the fringed wrinkle lichen but after watching it for almost 2 years I can see that its changes are far more subtle. Unlike its neighbor it doesn’t change color or shape when it dries out. It does become brittle though, so it takes a light touch to tell when this one needs rain. By paying attention to where I find them I’ve learned that many lichens prefer places that are high in humidity or are near a source of water, like a lake or stream. These two are no different-there is a wetland nearby. I’m still not sure exactly what this one is, but I think it might be a bristly beard lichen (Usnea hirta ) because it grows on a birch tree.

 6. British Soldier Lichens

I was very happy to see the bright red caps of these British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) poking up out of the snow near my house recently. Certain lichens prefer certain substrates and many will only grow on their favorite type of stone, wood or earth.  I always find these tiny lichens growing on rotting logs.

7. Foamflower Leaves

Heart-leaf foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is a native plant that grows in great abundance on an embankment under some maples near here. The leaves of foamflower are evergreen and hold their fall color all winter long. In May these plants will be covered in 6 inch tall spikes of tiny white flowers that some say resemble foam-hence their common name.

 8. Birch Polypore

Birch polypore fungi (Piptoporus betulinus ) seem to be everywhere this year, but it’s probably just because it’s so much easier to see them with no leaves on the underbrush.

 9. Bracket Fungus

This dried out bracket fungus reminded me of stained glass.

 10. Bird's Nest

I was surprised to see this small bird’s nest for the first time-right next to a trail I’ve followed hundreds of times. It was built only a foot or so off the ground and must have been very well camouflaged. I know that I’ve looked at this very spot countless times and never saw it or the birds that used it.

 11. January 19th Witch Hazel

On January 19th the witch hazel near the Ashuelot river still bloomed in spite of a few nights of below zero temperatures. Since the river water is warmer than the air, it must have some effect on this plant for it to be blooming so late in the year.

 12. January 26th 2013 Full Moon

A clear cold night and the full wolf moon marked the last weekend of January. I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it go.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness ~John Muir

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As the leaves continue to fall more lichens are becoming visible, including some that are fruiting and some that I’ve never seen before.                       A pine tree had fallen and taken this Beard Lichen (Usnea scabrata) with it. It is called old man’s beard and I picked it up off the ground and hung it on another tree so we could see it in all its glory. It was the longest beard lichen-probably 6 inches or more-that I’ve seen. These lichens have been used medicinally for centuries. This is also a beard lichen called bristly beard (Usnea hirta.) many lichens grow so slowly that they can take decades to grow a fraction of an inch. They are thought to be among the oldest living things on earth.

According to my lichen book moose hair lichen (Bryoria trichodes) is also called pine moss or horsehair lichen. Beard and hair lichens are extremely sensitive to air pollution and will only grow where the air quality is high. Deer, moose and squirrels eat this lichen and there are stories of deer rushing out of the forest and eating it out of the tops of felled spruce trees while loggers with chainsaws were still cutting the trees up. This one grew on a white pine trunk and it’s the first time I’ve seen it. 

These British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) grew on an old stump in full sun. The very bright red color at the end of branched stalks makes these easy to identify. The red tips are where spores are produced. They are also why this lichen is called “British soldier.” 

If I understand what I have read correctly, the chief difference between the British soldier lichens shown previously and the lipstick powderhorn lichens (Cladonia macilenta) in this photo is that British soldiers branch and lipstick powderhorns do not. They both have the same red spore producing tips and otherwise look identical to me. I just noticed that the pine needles in the background have a reddish cast to them, so I wonder if this lichen’s released spores are red. Common powderhorn lichens (Cladonia coniocraea) look just like lipstick powderhorns, but without the red tip. The spores are released from the pointed tip. These were also growing on a decaying log.

Another view of common powderhorn lichens (Cladonia coniocraea.) 

Mealy Pixie Cup (Cladonia chlorophaea) lichen look like little trumpets from the side but from the top they look like tiny cups. The cups are where the spores form and this lichen relies on raindrops falling in them to disperse its spores. This lichen is called “mealy” because of the grainy reproductive structures (soredia) covering its outside surface.

Trumpet lichens (Cladonia fimbriata) have much finer and smaller reproductive structures (soredia) than the mealy pixie cup lichen (Cladonia chlorophaea.) The splash cups of mealy pixie cups are also slightly larger than those of trumpet lichens. This is the first time I’ve seen either of these trumpet shaped lichens.

I’m not sure what this foliose lichen’s name is, but it was a pleasure to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one so white. This leaf like (foliose) lichen always reminds me of leaf lettuce. I think it is a fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermannopsis Americana.) Its colors are unusual. Rock Foam (Stereocaulon saxatile) grew directly on stone in full sun. It is a fragile looking lichen which caribou will eat if they can’t find reindeer lichen. These lichens are often used as a prospecting tool because a simple lab test will show what type of rock they grow on and what minerals, like copper or magnesium, are present.

I’m not positive about this lichen’s identity but it might be the sulphur firedot (Caloplaca flavovirescens.) Sulphur firedot lichen grows on rock with high calcium content and on unpainted concrete and leans toward orange-yellow in color. It could also be common goldspeck (Candelariella vitellina,) which is much more yellow than orange. In this area yellow lichens aren’t often seen.

I found this very large grayish tan crustose lichen growing on a boulder on the lake shore in full sun. The cup shaped formations are apothecia, or fruiting bodies, and they are where the spores are produced. I couldn’t see these tiny cups until I looked at the picture because they were too small.

A witches broom on a plant is a deformation which forms a very dense, compacted cluster of branches. The witches broom in the photo was high up on a white pine (Pinus strobus) and was absolutely covered with lichens of many kinds.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. ~ Albert Einstein

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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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