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Posts Tagged ‘Orange Lichen’

Last weekend I visited a railroad cut that dates from the early 1800s.  I found this rail trail in Westmoreland, a town that’s North West of here, last year and it has become one of my favorite places to explore because of the many different plants that grow here.

 1. Canyon

This cut is deep in places and ice had formed where little if any sun shines. If you have ever stood in front of the open door of a walk in freezer then you know what I felt like while taking this photo. It’s nice and cool in the summer and real cool at this time of year.

 2. Mossy Ledge

Some ice tried to stand up to the weak November sunlight but ion this day it was losing the battle, because it was near 60 degrees. All I could hear was the constant drip of water and the crash of falling ice. I took this photo because at times it was like being in an ice cathedral. This reminded me of a niche where a statue might stand.

 3. Trees on Ledges

Instead of spires this cathedral has trees that soar up to the heavens.

 4. Unknown Plant on Ledge

Instead of gargoyles many different plants perch atop even the smallest ledges. I thought the one in this photo was a spleenwort called wall rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) but there is a small brook running all along the base of the rock face so I couldn’t reach it. I’ve been able to get close enough by zooming in on the photos that I took to know that it isn’t wall rue, but I have no idea what it is.

 5. Icy LiverwortsThousands of liverworts also grow here, seemingly not minding the ice. The small brook kept me from inspecting these up close, too. These plants have grown here undisturbed for almost 200 years and they obviously like it because there are large colonies of them.

 6. Brook

This is the small brook that runs along the base of the rock face. It’s just wide enough so you can’t straddle it and just deep enough so you don’t want to step in it. If you jumped it you would run smack into stone, so I’ll wait until it freezes. There were some small fish in it but they were so fast that I couldn’t tell what they were. They might have been brook trout-they like cold water.

 7. Unknown Orange Lichen

Some stones were covered with huge patches of orange lichens that looked like moss. I’ve never seen this one anywhere but here and I haven’t been able to identify it. Many lichens are orange, but none seem quite as hairy as this one is.

 8. Shack 

Since the railroad ran through here at one time I’m assuming this was a lineman’s shack, or maybe a storage shed. People have torn off the siding to use as bridges to cross the brook.

 9. Ice on Ledges 

A lot of ice climbers come here in the winter to climb the huge ice columns that form when the temperature gets cold enough. On this day all of the ice was rotten and falling from the ledges, and I made sure I wasn’t standing under any of them when they let go.

 10. Rotten Ice

Rotten ice is ice that has frozen and thawed repeatedly or has layers of snow or water within it or has water or air pockets between its ice crystals. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes grayish, and sometimes white. Vertical hanging ice usually has bubbles in it that are big enough to be seen without magnification. It is always weak and it sounds hollow when it is tapped, rather than solid. When water gets between the ice and the stone that it’s hanging from it can fall very easily and without warning, so that’s a good reason to not stand under it.

 11. Slipped Ledge

Ice isn’t the only thing falling around here. The face of the slab of rock shown in the photo was about two feet wide and the whole thing must have easily been 10 feet long.

 12. Pink Feldspar

A pegmatite grows quickly in the last bits of magma to cool in granite. They are known for their large crystals of what are often semi-precious stones like aquamarine, tourmaline, garnet and topaz. One of the most common pegmatite minerals is feldspar, which can be white, pink or gray. The photo shows part of a large vein of pinkish feldspar that travels through the exposed bedrock here.  Many fine mineral specimens can be found in feldspar and I used to spend many happy hours searching for them. I think of it as a soup, with feldspar the broth and the semi-precious crystals the vegetables. Feldspar is a weak mineral that is easily broken and it gives off a very distinctive odor when struck with a steel hammer.

 13. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen

Smokey eye boulder lichens (Porpidia albocaerulescens) are usually a smoky gray color, which is where their common name comes from, but they can also have a bluish tint because of the way their waxy coating reflects sunlight. These are crustose lichens and they form a kind of crust on the substrate that they grow on. The bond between a crustose lichen and its substrate is so strong that it can’t be removed without damaging the substrate.  

14. The End 

I found this on the trail and thought that I might as well get some use out of it.

If nature has taught us anything it is that the impossible is probable ~ Ilyas Kassam

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

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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

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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