Posts Tagged ‘Hedwigia cillata Moss’

1. Stone Walls

Whitetail deer know if they are to survive in the winter they need to follow the sun and stay on warm, south eastward facing slopes during the day. Not only is it warmer in these places, but the abundant sunshine often means quicker snow melt and plenty of browse. Quite often in winter I follow their lead and on this day I walked along an old stone wall where the overhanging white pines and eastern hemlocks made for light snow cover and the bright sunshine meant it was considerably warmer.

 2. Shingled Rock Shield Lichen aka Xanthoparmelia stenophylla

But sunshine and warmth aren’t the only reasons I come here. Lichens and mosses grow on these stones by the thousands and this old wall has become one of my favorite places to hunt for them in winter. Many of the lichens are in their fruiting stage at this time of year, as the above example of a shingled rock shield lichen (Xanthoparmelia stenophylla) shows. The dark brown, cup shaped growths are the apothecia, or fruiting bodies. These lichens have been here probably for hundreds of years because they are quite large. I’ve seen some that were the size of grapefruit.

3. Rock Greenshield Lichen aka Flavoparmelia baltimorensis

Rock Greenshield Lichens (Flavoparmelia baltimorensis) are also quite large and are very common along this stretch of stone wall. Most foliose lichens seem to prefer growing in the sunshine and these are no different. Foliose means “leaf like” but these lichens always remind me of melted candle wax. In fact there is a lichen known as the eastern candle wax lichen (Ahtiana aurescens), but it grows on tree limbs instead of stone and leans more towards gray than green.

 4. Scattered Rock Posy Lichen aka Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans

I’m going into my third year of visiting this scattered rock posy lichen and if it has changed in that time the change is imperceptible. When I first found it, it was the only one I knew of but over the years I’ve found others. It likes to grow on granite in full sun and is one of the most beautiful lichens, in my opinion. This photo is the closest I’ve ever been able to get to it. The orange disc shaped growths are its fruiting bodies and the grayish, brain like growth is the thallus, or body. The entire lichen is about the size of a penny.

 5. Orange Crust Fungus aka Stereum complicatum

Lichens weren’t the only finds here on this day. This orange, crust like fungus is a parchment fungus called, not surprisingly, orange crust fungus (Stereum complicatum). It was growing a fallen branch. The complicatum part of the scientific name means “folded back on itself.” One of the identifying characteristics of this fungus is the smooth, pore free underside.

 6. Aster Seed Heads

There were plenty of aster seed heads along the wall, waiting for hungry birds.

 7. British Soldier Lichens

British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) grew on an old rotting stump. This lichen was named by someone who thought they resembled the eighteenth century uniform of a  British soldier. It’s very slow growing, and in a good year might grow 2 millimeters. The red parts of this lichen are where its spores are produced and, since they don’t make spores until they reach at least 4 years of age, I know this one has been here awhile. British soldiers and their cousins pixie cups are frutose lichens, which is a lichen that stands upright or hangs down.

8. Rusty Rod in Stone-2

Here and there in this wall there were holes drilled into the stone. In this case a steel rod was held in the hole by an old cut nail. The wire, I think, was probably used to fasten a strand or two of barbed wire to the rod. This gave the stone wall about 2 feet of extra height and probably helped keep the livestock in. Or out, if they had an enclosed vegetable garden.

 9. Hole in Stone

In some cases the rods were gone. The quarter sized holes were most likely done by hand with a star drill and sledge hammer.

10. Hedwigia cillata Moss

Hedwigia cillata moss looked good and healthy. This moss loves to grow on exposed surfaces like stones and cliff faces in sun or shade and is common all over the world. When dry this moss pulls its leaves in tight to the central stem and loses much of its bushy appearance.  Its fruiting bodies (sporophytes) are orange but hide deep among the leaves on short stalks so they aren’t as easy to see as those on other mosses.

11. Moss Covered Boulder

This boulder was covered with carpet mosses and lichens. In her book Gathering Moss author Robin Wall Kimmerer says that lichens pave the way for mosses on stones and other smooth surfaces. Lichens produce acids that slowly etch surfaces just enough to give rootless mosses enough of a purchase to anchor themselves to. The acids in lichens are powerful enough to etch even glass, and they have been known to damage stained glass in some of the great cathedrals of Europe. The yellow square in the above photo shows the area where the following macro photo of moss came from.

12. Brick Carpet Moss aka Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum

This is an extreme close-up of what I believe is brick carpet moss (Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum). There are many different low growing moss species that form carpets and, in my experience, are very hard to identify. These mosses seem to grow in the harshest conditions like on boulders in full sun, but mosses are tough. Robin Wall Kimmerer notes that mosses held dry in herbarium cabinets for 40 years revived in just a few minutes after being given water.

13. Common Goldspeck Lichen aka Candelariella vitellitta

Common goldspeck lichen (Candelariella vitellitta) is uncommonly beautiful. This bright yellow lichen grows on calcium free stones and the examples that I’ve found have always been quite small.  This was the first time that I’ve seen this lichen fruiting. The apothecia or fruiting bodies are disc shaped and slightly darker in color than the granular body, and are so small that I can’t think of anything to compare them to. In fact, I didn’t even see them until I looked at the photo. This one was a real test of the macro capabilities of my camera-all that you see in this photo would easily fit on a dime with room to spare.

14. Golden Moonglow Lichen

Golden moonglow lichen is another small but beautiful, greenish yellow squamulose lichen that grows on stone in full sun. The example in the photo grew on granite and was about the size of a penny, but I’ve seen them larger. This example had quite a lot of dark, disc shaped fruiting bodies showing in its center. A squamulose lichen falls somewhere between the leafy foliose lichens and crusty crustose lichens and has “squamules,” which in this case are the curled lobes around its outer edges.

There is no absolute scale of size in nature, and the small may be as important, or more so than the great. ~Oliver Heaviside

Note: I’m sorry that I don’t remember which of you told me about the Gathering Moss book, but I’d like to thank you for doing so. It’s a great book.

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People are getting spring fever and are starting to ask if it will ever warm up and if the snow will ever melt. The answers are easy-yes to both, but knowing when is a little more difficult.  We’ve had a few days above freezing including one glorious 50 degree day with wall to wall sun, but most have been at least partly cloudy and have hovered on either side of freezing. The snow is melting but it is doing so slowly.

 1. Snow Melt

Still, the signs are everywhere.

 2. Snow Shadows

When the wind turns and comes out of the north it is never kind and can and can be fierce at times. This row of maples stood up to it and caught the snow it carried before it could fall to the ground. That’s why the snow melted so quickly on the south side of the windbreak. In other places what was knee high a week ago now comes to just slightly over the shoe tops, but it is crusty and still tough to walk through.

 3. Stream

 Slow snow melt doesn’t have much effect on raising the level of streams like this one but a warm rain in the spring before the snow is completely melted can make small streams rage enough to scour the forest floor. I’ve seen the one pictured grow to more than 10 times this width overnight.

 4. River Ice Slab

What little ice there is along the edges of the river is starting to either melt or break up. This slab was about 3 inches thick. I think this will be another year that the Ashuelot doesn’t completely freeze over. If so this will be only the second time in my lifetime that I can remember that happening. The first was last winter.

 5. River Rapids

Though it looks like it might be a raging torrent, this is actually a sign that the snow is melting at a pace that the river can keep up with. When rapids like these have 6 to 8 feet of water over them, making them invisible, is when the river bears watching.

 6. Lichen Hunting Spot

Because of the heavy snow it has been hard to find much of anything worth photographing in the woods, but now that the snow has melted away from stumps, trees and stones, lichens and mosses are appearing again.

 7. Orange Lichen possibly Caloplaca holocarpa

 This orange lichen was hard to miss.  At first I thought it might be a lichen called Caloplaca holocarpa, but since that lichen likes to grow on limestone and this one was growing on granite, I’m leaning more toward granite firedot (Calplaca arenaria.) Natural limestone is scarce in New Hampshire, but we have plenty of granite.

8. Moss-Possibly Hedwigia cillata

 The ice melted enough to reveal this moss (Hedwigia cillata.) It grows in sun or shade and is common on ledges and stone walls. It also grows well on asphalt and can be found on paving and asphalt roofs. It is said to be an excellent choice when considering a “green roof.”

 9. Coyote Print

I’ve always wondered what snow depth does to animals like deer. It must slow them down considerably, making them easier prey. I think this is a coyote’s front paw print. The animal had woven a slushy path in and out of low shrubbery along the river where beavers have been active. After rebounding from near extinction, coyotes began the slow trek eastward from the Midwest in the early 1900s, finally reaching New Hampshire in 1944. They are now found in every county in the state, but they stay out of sight.

10 Snow Hole

The snow melts in curious, abstract ways sometimes. The setting sun washed this dirty snow with color.

 11. Crescent  Moon

There isn’t much melting going on at night yet. In fact we just had a night with 14 degrees below zero wind chills. But, I read that the planet Mercury could be seen just under the crescent moon if you looked to the west just after moon rise so I had to go out and see it. I saw the moon but didn’t see any sign of Mercury or anything else that looked like a planet. It was mighty cold so I didn’t dilly dally too long, waiting for Mercury to show up.

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself. ~L.W. Gilbert

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