Posts Tagged ‘Rag Bag Lichen’

1. Brickyard Brook

Recently, after seeing a great example of a liverwort on the Plants Amaze Me blog I wondered why I never saw such things. After thinking about it I realized that, just like anything else in nature, if I wasn’t seeing liverworts it was because I wasn’t looking in the right places. Since they like to grow where they never dry out completely I headed for a local brook to see if there were any there. Leafy liverworts look kind of like seaweed, so I didn’t think I’d have too much trouble finding at least one example.

2. Foliose Lichen

One of the first things I spotted was this foliose lichen, which I think might be called rag bag lichen (Platismatia glauca). It was growing on a tree limb and was very beautiful. It is one that I don’t think I’ve seen before.

3. Foliose Lichen

I wanted you to be able to see the beautiful growth patterns in the center of the foliose lichen shown in the previous photo, so this is a cropped version. This could also be crumpled rag lichen (Platismatia tuckermannii).

 4. Lemon Drops

I saw several examples of lemon drops here and there along the brook. Lemon drops (Bisporella citrina) are sac fungi that are very small and very hard to photograph. They are disc shaped when small and eventually become saucer shaped. Sometimes they fruit in the hundreds on fallen hardwood logs. They are one of the easiest fungi to see in the woods, but because they are so hard to photograph I usually take many from several different angles.

 5. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) grew on a rotting hardwood stump. These white mushrooms are also easily seen. Their caps overlap like shingles and it always looks like they are crowding each other, trying to grow as close as possible. They have a very short stem that is sometimes absent. Tiny worms called nematodes live on plant and fungal tissue but not on oyster mushrooms. Scientists discovered in 1986 that oyster mushrooms “exude extracellular toxins that stun the worm, whereupon the mycelium invades its body through its orifices.” What this means is that oyster mushrooms are actually carnivorous. They also consume bacteria (Pseudomonas and Agrobacterium) in order to get nitrogen and protein. It’s like something out of a science fiction novel.

 6. Pool in Brickyard Brook

There are several large pools along this stretch of brook. These are the kinds of places where I love to just sit for a while, listening to the woods. On this day there was a large bird circling overhead and making a very strange sound that sounded like a cross between the croak of a great blue heron and the caw of a crow. It’s a sound I don’t remember ever hearing and though I’ve listened to many bird calls online, I can’t find the exact sound that the bird made.Though there aren’t many leaves on the trees in this photo there were still enough in the canopy to prevent me from seeing what kind of bird it was.

 7. Moss Mnium punctatum

I thought that this might be a liverwort but it turned out to be a moss called Mnium punctatum. Though some mosses like this one can resemble vascular plants, mosses have no xylem and phloem, or vascular tissue. This is why mosses are classified as Bryophytes-plants that have no roots, leaves, or stem. They also have no flowers or seeds and reproduce through spores. Since mosses have no roots they need to grow in areas with adequate moisture. This one was growing in soil that was dripping wet.

 8. Rock Covered With Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

Something about the moss on this stone didn’t look quite right.

 9. Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

That’s because it wasn’t moss at all-it was a liverwort that looked like a mass of centipedes. Though not the one I was looking for this liverwort, called greater whip wort (Bazzania trilobata), was interesting and had a beauty all its own. It is quite small-each “leaf” is only about 1/8 inch (3mm) wide. The way the leaves hang down gives the shoots rounded backs and make them appear insect like. They almost look as if they’ve been braided.

 10. Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

The “trilobata” part of the scientific name comes from the way each leaf ends in 3 lobes or notches. This characteristic tells you that you have the correct liverwort when trying to identify it. Like mosses liverworts are bryophytes and have no roots. Unlike mosses liverworts won’t stand anything but pure, clean water. Even chlorinated water can harm them, so if you see liverworts growing in your area you know the water is good and clean.

 11. Ledge Face

Since I didn’t have any luck finding the liverwort that I was after at the stream I decided to try another place where stone ledges stay wet from dripping groundwater. They are also covered with colorful lichens, as the photo shows. These looked like orange sulfur fire dot lichens (Caloplaca flavovirescens) but this was liverwort day, so the lichens will have to wait for another time.

 12. Liverwort Conocephalum conicum 2

I hadn’t walked very far when I saw this mass of plants growing on the ledges. It was obviously not moss, but was it what I was looking for?

13. Liverwort Conocephalum conicum

Yes it was-the very reptilian liverwort called great scented liverwort (Conocephalum conicum), also called snakeskin liverwort, for obvious reasons. I didn’t know it at the time but if you crush this liverwort it is supposed to have a very unique, spicy scent. The reason it looks so snake like is because of the way its pores and air chambers are outlined on its surfaces. It is the only liverwort with this feature, so it is very easy to identify. In my opinion it is one of the most interesting and beautiful things found in nature, and it was well worth searching for.

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. ~ Eleanora Duse

Thanks for stopping in.



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