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Posts Tagged ‘Script Lichen’

1. Stream

There’s a stream near my house that I follow occasionally. It’s not big enough to row a boat up or down, gently or otherwise, but life is often dreamlike when I walk its banks.

2. Ice on a Log

It was a warm, rainy day that was more like fall than winter but ice had formed on the logs overnight and remained there in shadier places. I tried to catch all the colors of the rainbow that the sun made in the ice but once again I was less than successful.

3. Gravel

When the glaciers retreated they left behind huge amounts of sand and gravel in this area and most stream and river beds flow through it. Many animals drink from this stream and the sand bars dotted here and there along its length are great places to look for their tracks, but on this day the rain had been heavy enough to wash them away.

4. Sensitive Fern

It’s easy to see why sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) is also called bead fern when you look closely at the shiny black spore cases on its fertile fronds. This fern gets its name from its sensitivity to frost because it’s usually one of the first to brown in the fall. It also likes growing in damp soil and does well along the stream.

 5. Tree Apron Moss  Closeup

It’s not hard to imagine tree skirt moss (Anomodon attenuates) creeping across the bark of its host tree, looking very worm like.

6. Jelly Fungus

This jelly fungus was the color of Vaseline when I saw it on its limb but somehow the color has changed into a kind of yellow-green-orange in the photos. I was all prepared to tell you I’d never seen it before but now it looks like the common witch’s butter (Tremella mesenterica.) It’s also called yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, and yellow trembler, and is very common in winter.

7. Script Lichen

I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find script lichens (Graphis) at certain times of year and then I finally realized that they only fruit in late fall and winter in this region, so at other times of year they look like a whitish gray splotch on tree bark. The dark rune like figures are its fruiting bodies (apothecia) and the lighter gray is the body (thallus) of the lichen. There are many different varieties of script lichen, each determined by the shape of its apothecia.

Someday I’m going to find out how releasing their spores at this time of year benefits some lichens. So far I haven’t had much luck.

8. Bitter Wart Lichen

I’ve only seen bitter wart lichen (Pertusaria amara) once before so I was very happy to find this one growing near the stream on an American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) limb. The body (thallus) of this lichen is whitish to greenish gray and its fruiting bodies (apothecia) are the whitish “warts” from which it takes part of its common name. The other part of its common name comes from the fact that it is extremely bitter tasting. It seems to prefer the bark of hornbeams because that’s where it was growing both times I’ve seen it. This lichen seems to have a hard time producing spores, which might help account for its rarity.

9. Foamflower Foliage

Foamflowers are native plants that hold their hairy leaves through winter and like growing in damp shaded soil along streams and rivers. Quite often after it gets cold the leaves will turn a reddish color but this year they’ve stayed green.

10. River Grape Vine

Many wild grapevines grow along this stream and their fermenting fruit perfumes the air heavily each fall. Their tiny flowers are also very fragrant and can be detected from quite a distance. Grapevines are easy to identify because of the way their bark peels in long strips. These grapes are one of our native vines and are called riverbank grapes (Vitis riparia) because that is where they like to grow. They have been known to survive temperatures as low as -70°F and are used as rootstock for several less hardy commercial varieties.  The vine in the photo is an old one, nearly as big around as my leg.

11. Whitewash Lichen

Something made strange marks in this whitewash lichen (Phlyctis argena). This lichen is crusty and tough when dry but softens with rain and is easily damaged. I can’t think of any bug, bird or animal that would have made these marks. They were too thin and shallow for a bear and too high on the tree for a bobcat to have made them. Maybe a falling branch made them on its way to the ground.

12. Foam on Pine bark

For years I’ve seen foam at the base of certain white pine trees (Pinus strobus) when it rains. Sometimes it is in just a spot or two and at other times it nearly circles the entire tree. I’ve tried to find out what might cause it for a long time and finally had some luck at the Walter Reeves website recently. The most plausible explanation says that the “foam is caused by the formation of a crude soap on the bark. During drought there is an accumulation of salts, acids and other particles from the air that coat the bark surface (soap is essentially salts and acids). When it rains, these mix with the water and go into solution. The froth (foam) is from the agitation of the mixture when it encounters a barrier (bark plates) during its flow toward the ground.” That makes sense to me.

13. Bark Beetle Damage

If I understand what I’ve read correctly, the deeper channels or galleries seen on this white pine limb were made by the male pine engraver beetle (Ips) and the shallower ones by his harem of females. Eggs are deposited in these shallower galleries and once the larva hatch they create even more galleries. It all ends up looking like some form of ancient script and sometimes I catch myself trying to read it.

Luckily these beetles attack trees that are already damaged or weakened by stress and kill very few healthy trees but still, if you happen to own forested land and have seen evidence of these beetles you would do well to contact a qualified professional forester.  A healthy forest is the best defense against bark beetles and many other pests.

14. Tree Moss aka Climacium dendroides 2

Tree moss grew along the stream embankment close enough to the water to be submerged if it rises very much. I’ve seen it flood here several times, high enough to wash over the road. Apparently the mosses and other plants can take it.

15. Tree Moss aka Climacium dendroides

From the side the tree moss looked even more beautiful and full of life, as if it was glowing with an inner light. Some plants seem to just throb with the excitement of living, and this is one of them. They’re a true joy to behold.

Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.~ Edwin Way Teale

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 1. Common Goldspeck Lichen aka  Candelariella vitellitta

If you visit a place or places day after day, year after year, you get to know what grows in those places, and that is how I have come to know so many lichens-because I visit them regularly. At this time of year people often think that once the leaves fall there isn’t anything colorful left to see, but that simply isn’t true.  Lichens like the common goldspeck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) in the above photo are here year round for us to enjoy, and once the leaves fall many lichens become even easier to see. Look for this crustose lichen on stone. Crustose lichens form crusts that tightly adhere to the substrate that they grow on and can’t be removed without damaging it.

2. Bubble Gum Lichen

Bubblegum lichen (Icmadophila ericetorum) gets its name from its bright, bubblegum pink fruiting bodies (apothecia.) I find this crustose lichen growing in large patches on acid, sandy soil in full sun along with blueberries and sweet fern.  It is uncommon and I knew of only two places where it grew. One of those places has been destroyed by logging however, so now there is only one place I know of to find it.

Note: Bob Klips has identified this lichen as Dibaeis baeomyces rather than Icmadophila ericetorum. One of the differences between the two is the length of the stalks that the apothecia sit on. They are longer on Icmadophila ericetorum than they are on Dibaeis baeomyces. Thank you Bob, for the help! If you haven’t visited Bob blog, “Bob’s Brain on Botany,” you should. It’s a real treat and you can find it at bobklips.com

3. Script Lichen

Script lichen looks just like its name suggests but it is a very ancient script, like long forgotten runes. This is another crustose lichen but I find it growing on tree bark rather than stone or soil. The dark “script” characters are its fruiting bodies. There are many script lichen species and each seems to prefer a certain species of tree. I think this example is the common script lichen (Graphis scripta) which prefers smooth barked trees like maple.

4. Poplar Sunburst Lichen

One of my favorite lichens is the poplar sunburst lichen ((Xanthoria hasseana). Its fruiting bodies are disc like structures that remind me of orange octopus suckers. This seems to be a perpetually fruiting lichen which hasn’t stopped since I found it about two years ago. It has grown though, and now a little bigger than a quarter.  I think it is one of our more beautiful lichens found in this area. This is a foliose lichen that grows on tree bark, but I’ve never found it on a poplar. Foliose lichens are lobed and leaf like.

5. Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie cup lichens (Cladonia pyxidata) look like tiny golf tees or trumpets, and they are also called trumpet lichens. They are common and I almost always find them growing on the sides of rotting tree stumps, often with British soldier and common powder horn lichens (Cladonia coniocraea.) Common powder horn is, curiously, not horn shaped. They are the taller structures in this photo. Pixie cups are squamulose lichens, which means they are scaly, but they are also foliose, or leafy.

6. Scattered Rock Posy Lichen

When I first found this beautiful little scattered rock posy lichen (Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans) a few years ago it could have sat on a penny with room to spare, but now it has reached quarter size. The orange pad shaped parts are its fruiting bodies (Apothecia,) and the grayish, brain like part is the body (thallus) of this relatively uncommon foliose lichen. By measuring the rate of growth of lichens scientists can get a fairly accurate estimate of how old the rocks are that the lichens grow on. This is known as lichenometry.

7. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen

Smokey eye boulder lichen is another favorite of mine. The blue color seen in the above photo is caused by the way light reflects off a waxy coating on the fruiting bodies, which is very similar to the “bloom” found on plums, blueberries, and grapes. In addition to blue it can also appear black or gray depending on which direction the light happens to be coming from.  The greenish-gold background color is the color of the body (thallus) of this crustose lichen.

8. Rock Disk Lichen

Crustose rock disk lichens (Lecidella stigmatea) look a lot like tile lichens (Lecidea tessellate,) but tile lichens have black fruiting bodies that are sunken, or concave, and rock disk lichens have black fruiting bodies that are raised or flat. These lichens are very common on rocks of all kinds and grow in full sun.

9. Granite Firedot Lichen aka Caloplaca arenaria

Granite firedot lichens (Caloplaca arenaria) have a gray body (Thallus) and dark orange fruiting bodies (Apothecia,) but the fruiting bodies are so crowded that it’s often hard to see the gray thallus. This is another crustose lichen that doesn’t mind growing on granite in full sun.

10. Golden Moonglow Lichen

Golden moonglow lichens (Dimelaena oreina) can get quite big but I usually find them at dime to quarter size. They grow in groups in full sun on granite and often grow quite close together. The examples in the above photo were fruiting, and that is something I don’t see them do very often. Their apothecia are the dark, cup shaped bodies in the centers of the examples shown. I’ve never been able to find out why so many lichens seem to release their spores so late in the year.

 11. Toadskin Lichen

I showed toadskin lichen (Lasallia papulosa) in a recent post and quite a few people seemed interested in it, so I thought I’d show it again here and go into a little more detail.  This lichen is very similar to rock tripe lichen (Umbilicaria mammulata) and if it wasn’t for all of the warts it would look very much like it.  The warts are called pustules and on the back of the lichen there is a corresponding pit for every pustule. When wet the greenish color of the algae that is present comes through on the surface. The black dots are its fruiting bodies. Each lichen is attached to the rock at a single point that looks much like a belly button, so this is an umbilicate lichen.

12. Toadskin Lichen Dry

When wet toadskin lichens are rubbery and pliable and feel much like your ear lobe but when they dry out they are much like a potato chip, and will crack just as easily.  Like many lichens they also change color when they dry out, and turn kind of ashy gray like the example in the above photo. Toadskin lichens are also some of the hardest to find-I’ve only seen them growing on hilltop boulders.

However since most lichens grow on trees, soil, rocks, stumps and logs they’re virtually everywhere you go. Many are quite small though, so you have to walk slowly and look closely to find them. Once you’ve seen a few you’ll start seeing them almost everywhere you go. I know of a few that grow on trees right in the heart of downtown Keene.

The trees are coming into their winter bareness; the only green is the lichen on their branches.
~Verlyn Klinkenborg

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 1. Snowy Field

I went down a road that I had been curious about for years, just to see where it went, and found myself in a wide open, treeless field. When you live in a state with 4.8 million acres of trees places like this are pretty special, so I took a photo of it. When I looked at it later on the computer it looked like a tropical, white sand beach. Unfortunately the “sand” is snow, but I can dream.

After being surrounded by forest for nearly all of my life, being in a place like this makes me feel strange, like being in a house with no walls. It’s great to visit places that are so wide open and have such “big sky,” but I don’t think I could live there. I wonder how prairie people stand it.

2. Script Lichen

Since I complained about having only seen script lichen twice, not only am I seeing it everywhere now but I’m noticing different kids. The dark lines, which are the fruiting bodies (apothecia), are very different between the upper and lower halves of this photo. The upper ones are long and horizontal while the lower ones are short, branched, and squiggly. I think the upper example is elegant script lichen (Graphis elegans) and the lower common script lichen (Graphis scripta). There are 39 species of script lichen.

 3. Sulfur Firedot Lichen aka Caloplaca flavovirescens 

The yellow body (thallus) and dark orange, cushion shaped fruiting bodies (apothecia) tell me that this is a sulfur firedot lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens).  Though I see this small lichen occasionally this is the first time I’ve ever seen its apothecia. I found this one growing on a stone in an old stone wall. There are 131 species of Caloplaca in North America alone, so identifying them can be challenging.

 4. Rock Disk Lichen

I thought this crustose lichen might be one called tiny button lichen (Amandinea punctata), but after some reading I find that tiny button lichen rarely grows on rock. It prefers bark or wood dust.  Since this lichen was growing on nothing but rock I have to lean more towards rock disk lichen (Lecidella stigmatea), which is described as having a dirty white, gray, brownish gray to sometimes partly pale rusty thallus (body) with blackish brown fruiting bodies (Apothecia).

 5. Rock Disk Lichen Closeup

The fruiting bodies of the rock disc lichen are either even with the body of the lichen (plane) or are convex like those shown in the photo. If they were concave we would most likely be looking at one of the map lichens. Each one of these little apothecia isn’t much bigger than a period made by a pencil on paper, so you have to look closely when trying to make a good identification. Luckily the camera often sees what I can’t.

 6. Woodpecker Condos

Pileated woodpeckers were building condos in this pine tree.  They roost in hollow trees and have many entrance holes to the nest, but I’m not sure if that’s what was going on here.

 7. Woodpecker Hole Closeup

I had to hold the camera up over my head and shoot blind to get this view looking inside a pileated woodpecker hole, so it isn’t the sharpest shot you’ve ever seen on this blog. You can see that he has excavated all the way to the hollow heart of the tree. I wonder if they know the tree is hollow before they start excavating.

 8. Zig Zag Tree Wound

It took me a while to find it because there are a lot of trees out there, but I found the tree with the zig zag scar again. I don’t know why I thought I’d learn any more now than I did when I first ran into it last fall, but I wanted to see it again and take a closer look. Of course I don’t know any more now than I did then-just that it’s a scar deep in the bark of a white pine that looks like a zig zag. It starts below the soil level and runs up the trunk about 3 feet and then stops. I don’t know if lightning or another natural event caused it or if it was a boy with a pocket knife.  It is an oddity though, no matter what caused it.

I did some online searching and didn’t find anything that looked like it but I was contacted by another blogger who found an old hemlock with an even stranger scar. If you’d like to see it, just click here.

 9. Zig Zag Tree Wound Closeup

This close-up shows how thick the bark is on either side of the zig zag scar and how they come together like a zipper. The bark on older white pines is naturally platy and deeply furrowed, but it looks to me like the tree has been trying to heal this scar for a very long time.

 Mini Waterfall

I saw a culvert that directed spring water off a hill and into a pond. I tried to get a shot of the miniature waterfall and the ice cloak that it had wrapped itself in, but it’s a little hard to see that in this photo.

 10. Wire Through Pine Limb

There is a lot of old fencing left in our woods from the 1800s when this was all pasture land. One day I saw a dead pine limb that had grown around the wire of an old stock fence and had broken away from the tree and was now hanging from it. The diameter of the limb was probably about 2 1/2 to 3 inches.

 11. Wire Through Pine Limb Closeup

For the limb to have grown around the wire as it did, both would have had to have been undisturbed for quite a long time, I would think.  I’ve heard of some strange things being found in trees, but wire isn’t that unusual. It is a logger’s nightmare though-imagine running a chainsaw into that. .

 12. Thin Pine Bark 2

I found a piece of pitch pine bark that had orange colored parts that were as thin as paper.

 13. Thin Pine Bark

This is what I saw when I held the piece of pitch pine bark up to the light. Is this what a squirrel sees from inside a hollow tree?

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle

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1. Frozen Ashuelot

For the first time in at least 3 years the Ashuelot River has frozen over in this spot. You know it has been cold when that happens. It freezes over regularly in other areas but usually not here.

 2. Snowy Bushes

We’ve had 57 inches of snow so far this year and it seems like snow covers everything. It’s getting close to impossible to get through it without snowshoes. Luckily we also have 7000 miles of snowmobile trails-more miles than highways-and they make the going a little easier. If you step off a well packed snowmobile trail though, you can suddenly find yourself knee deep in snow.

 3. Snowy Stream

In spite of all the snow and cold there are still quiet, open pools in the woods where birds and animals can drink.

 4. Magnolia Bud 

Magnolia buds are wearing their winter fur coats.

 5. Monadnock From Marlborough

Mount Monadnock is wearing its winter coat too, but not to keep warm. The latest trail report says that hikers should be prepared for ice and deep snow. I’ve been through waist deep snow up there and I hope to never have to do that again. People sometimes underestimate the mountain and end up having to be rescued. Doing so can be very dangerous in winter.

 6. Lemon Drops 

Winter is a good time to find jelly and sac fungi. Lemon drops (Bisporella citrina) are sac fungi that grow on rotting logs and form spherical bodies that then become tiny yellow, trumpet shaped cups that are so small they look like simple discs. The biggest one I’ve seen was no bigger than 1/8 inch and the smallest the size of a period made with a pencil. They are usually in large groups that make them easier to find.

 7. Script Lichen with Elongated Apothecia called Lirellae 

For those new to blogging; the way it works is, if you mention on your blog that you’ve never seen a certain thing you will suddenly start seeing it everywhere. That’s exactly what happened when I said that I had only seen 2 examples of script lichen (Graphis scripta) in my lifetime. Now it’s like they’re on every tree limb. I’m not sure how it would work if you said you had never seen a room full of money that was all yours, but it works well for fungi, lichens and slime molds. And birds.

 8. Beard Lichens

There were many fishbone beard lichens (Usnea fillipendula) on the trunk of this white pine (pinus strobus). This pine stands near a local lake and these lichens seem to prefer growing near water. They get their common name from their resemblance to a fish skeleton.

 9. Fishbone Beard Lichen aka Usnea fillipendula with Unknown Green Beard

Here is a closer look at a fishbone beard lichen on the right and an unknown, dark green beard lichen on the left. I thought the darker one was moose hair lichen (Bryoria trichodes) at one time but that lichen is brown.  Now I’m wondering if it might be witch’s hair (Alectoria sarmentosa). It could also be a common beard lichen covered with green algae. It never seems to change color due to weather conditions as many other lichens do.

 10. Whitewash Lichen

Whitewash lichen (Phlyctis argena) is a perfect name for this lichen that looks like someone painted it on tree trunks. It can be dull white or silvery and is a large crustose lichen that can cover quite a large area.  This lichen rarely fruits and, as lichens go, it isn’t very exciting.

 11. Black Locust Seed Pod

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) seed pods were all over the snow one day so I brought one home to have a closer look. These pods are from 2-6 inches long-far smaller than honey locust pods (Gleditsia triacanthos). Sometimes they can be very dark colored and other times are not. The leaves and bark of black locust are toxic to both humans and animals and I’ve read that if the foliage is bruised and mixed with sugar it will attract and kill flies. The fragrant flowers are very beautiful and appear in May and June. And bees and hummingbirds love them. The rot resistant wood makes excellent fence posts that can last 100 years or more.

12. Black Locust Seed

The tiny (about 1/4 of an inch long) seeds are bean shaped. No surprise since black locust is a legume, related to peas and beans. This photo shows how they attach to the inside of the pod. These seeds have a highly impermeable coating and can stay viable for many years. The seed pods stay on the tree until winter when strong winds will usually scatter them. The dried papery pod acts as a sail to help to carry the seeds long distances.

 13. Maple Sugaring

Someone is very optimistic about sap flow. This new method isn’t quite as picturesque as the old tin bucket hanging from a tree but it must be far more sanitary, and the sap won’t be diluted by rain water.

 14. Sunset

We’ve had some beautiful sunsets here this winter and they make me wonder if this winter is different somehow, or if I just wasn’t paying attention in previous years.

I please myself with the graces of the winter scenery, and believe that we are as much touched by it as by the genial influences of summer. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Last weekend (before our latest snowstorm) I decided to look for signs of spring. What follows is some of what I found.

 1. Skunk Cabbage Swamp

I started my search in a low, swampy area where hundreds of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) plants grow. The plant smells just like its name suggests and I could smell them as I tiptoed through the snow, trying not to step on them.

 2. Skunk Cabbage

I saw signs of life. Skunk cabbages are one of the earliest spring plants, and through a process called thermogenesis are able to generate temperatures far higher than the surrounding air. You can often see evidence of skunk cabbage having melted its way through several inches of solid ice.

 3. Skunk Cabbage

The maroon thing with yellow-green splotches that looks like a tongue in the lower right corner is this year’s skunk cabbage flower (spathe), just starting to poke up out of the soil.

 4. Script Lichen aka Graphis alboscripta 

Script lichen (Graphis scripta) doesn’t have anything to do with spring except to remind me that soon it will be much harder to find lichens because of foliage.  Script lichen grows on tree bark and is seems to be quite rare here. I’ve only seen two examples in my lifetime, but a lot of that could be because I forget to look for them.  The dark lines that look like some type of strange cuneiform writing are the apothecia, or fruiting bodies of this crustose lichen. These were much larger on this example than on the other one that I found.

 5. Shagbark Hickory Bud 

The terminal buds of shagbark hickory (Carya ovate) are quite large and can fool you into thinking that they are swelling because of spring sap flow but no, they are this way all winter. We have to have several sunny days above freezing to trigger sap flow, so it’ll be awhile yet before buds really start to swell.

6. Hazelnut

I loved all the movement and texture in these American hazelnut seed pods. Hazelnuts (Corylus Americana) are usually snapped up quickly by bears, squirrels and other animals but in this spot I could have collected pockets full of them. It makes me wonder why the animals aren’t eating them.

 7. Hazelnuts

The tasty hazelnuts are also called filberts. Each one is about as big in diameter as an M&M candy. It’s strange to see them this late in the year.

 8. Marginal Wood Fern Sori

Native evergreen marginal wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis) gets its common name from the way its spore cases or fruit dots (sori) grow on the margins of the leaflets (pinnules). These ferns grow new sori on fertile fronds each spring and release their spores in July and August. The sori are no bigger than a match head.

9. Marginal Wood Fern Sori Closeup

On marginal wood fern the sporangia inside the spore cases are covered by a membranous cover called an indusium or fruit cover. When the sporangia are ripe they push this cover off so the tiny, dust like spores can be released.  This only happens on a dry day when there is a dry breeze so the spores might be carried as far from the parent plant as possible. Some ferns, like polypody (Polypodium vulgare), lack indusia and have naked spore cases.  The fiddleheads of this fern are covered with golden brown scales and are among the first to appear in spring.

 10. Tinder Fungus aka Fomes fomentarius

This example of a tinder polypore (Fomes fomentarius), also called horse hoof fungus, looked ancient but probably isn’t that old. This bracket fungus produces spores at all times of year but through spring and summer studies have shown that as many as 800 million can be produced in a single hour. The fungus is also known for its ability to stop bleeding and was recommended for that purpose by none other than the father of medicine himself, Hippocrates (460 – 370 BCE).

11. Frullania Liverwort

If you see a tree with what looks like fine, lacy, brown or purplish spots all over its trunk a closer look might show the spots to be Frullania eboracensis liverworts. This is the only liverwort in this region that can stand a dry environment. It is considered a northern species and is quite common here. I find it on maples and oaks. Though the one in the photo is dime sized they can get to the size of a grapefruit.

12. Frullania Liverwort

Frullania eboracensis liverworts are considered leafy liverworts. The above photo shows how the almost microscopic, zipper like, zig zagging leaves overlap. Not seen are the sac like lobes on their undersides. The leaves radiate outward from a central point and become very dark in winter, lightening as the air temperature warms. Quite a few lighter colored ones can be seen here, so maybe they feel spring in the air.

13. Willow Catkins

Last time I visited this willow it had one catkin showing, but on this day there were many. I haven’t been able to figure out which willow it is yet, but its catkins are quite small. Male catkins appear much earlier than female catkins, so there’s a good chance that these are male.

Spring might seem like it’s far off but if you go by nature rather than the calendar, you can see it happening right now.

Even in the winter, in the midst of the storm, the sun is still there.  Somewhere above the clouds, it still shines and warms and pulls at the life buried deep inside the brown branches and frozen earth. ~Gloria Gaither

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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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