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Posts Tagged ‘Tile Lichen’

Last Sunday I woke with an urge to climb, so I headed 25 miles north to Stoddard where Pitcher Mountain lives. Since we have no snow in Keene I assumed there would be no snow there, but I was wrong. It was another one of those “what was I thinking?” moments.

But all in all the trail wasn’t bad because it was snow instead of ice. I stopped to get a photo of target canker on a red maple (Acer rubrum.) If I understand what I’ve read correctly red maples are the only trees that get this canker. It makes the tree’s bark form bullseye shaped raised plates that look like a target, but it doesn’t really hurt the tree. The circular plates are the tree’s response to a fungus that invades the healthy bark and kills it. During the next season the tree responds with a new layer of bark and cork (callus) to contain the fungus. In the next dormant season the fungus again attacks and kills more bark and on it goes, a seasonal alternation of pathogen invasion and host defense response which creates concentric ridges of callus tissue; a target canker. Finally the fungus gives up or dies off and the tree grows on. Red maples have beautiful deep red flowers and the trees often grow in large colonies, so I was hoping to see huge swaths of red from the summit.

I also stopped to see a striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) that grew along the trail. The two large terminal bud scales had started pulling apart to reveal the bud within, just like they were doing 25 miles and over 1,600 feet lower in Keene. The pink and orange fuzzy buds are very beautiful and I’m getting anxious to see them. It won’t be long now.

I had to stop at one of my favorite places, which is the pasture about half way up the trail. I always imagine doors being thrown open and a great whooshing sound when I see this view because it’s so expansive compared to the close woods where I spend most of my time. It’s a peaceful, simple place with just the earth, sky, and you and you can step outside yourself for a while here.

The trail takes a turn after the pasture and gets steeper and rockier as it follows it uphill. On this day I had a choice; mud on one side or snow on the other. I chose the snowy side.

There is a fairly good view of Mount Monadnock from this leg of the trail but low haze often spoils it. It wasn’t too bad on this day.

There is a lot of black knot disease on the black cherry trees (Prunus serotina) here and I stopped to look at an example. Black knot is caused by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa which can also attack plums, peaches, and apricots. Spores from the fungus are spread by rain or wind and typically will infect trees from April through June on new growth. Infected stems swell up and produce hard black knots like those in the above photo. The disease can eventually kill the tree so infected limbs should be pruned off 2-4 inches below the knots and buried or burned before bud break the following spring.

This is what black knot can do to a fully grown black cherry. This is a wound that never heals and on a tree this age and size the disease is impossible to control and the trees should be destroyed so the fungus can’t release anymore spores. If this photo looks a little strange it’s because I had to use the flash because it was so shady here.

You can get a glimpse of the fire tower from a good distance away before the trees leaf out, but the glimpse signals the start of the steepest part of the climb. The trail had a little snow on it but the summit was snow free, bare granite as usual.

The old forest fire warden’s cabin still stands but each year it seems to lean into the mountainside just a little more. Staying up here must have been hard work no matter what time of year it was.

Pitcher Mountain is one of just a handful of places I know of where Mountain ash trees (Sorbus americana) grow naturally. These trees are easy to identify when they don’t have leaves by their big black buds. This example was just starting to turn green. Mountain ash is used ornamentally because of its white flowers in late spring and bright orange berries in the fall, but it is a native tree. Native Americans made a tea from the bark and berries of this tree to treat coughs, and as a pain killer. They also ate the died and ground berries for food, adding them to soups and stews. The berries are said to be very tart and have an unpleasant taste when unripe.

The fire tower was unmanned and so was the summit so I had the whole rock pile to myself, which is a very rare thing. You find people on most mountaintops in this area and popular ones like Mount Monadnock can at times seem as busy as a Manhattan sidewalk. I call the fire tower on Pitcher Mountain a monument to irony because the original wooden tower built in 1915 burned in April of 1940, in the most destructive forest fire to ever strike this part of the state. Twenty seven thousand acres burned, including the tower and all of the trees on the summit.

A couple of weeks ago we had strong winds with 60 mile per hour gusts and a lot of trees fell in certain areas, so it’s probably a good thing that the fire tower is fastened to the granite of the summit with several stout cables. The wind that day must have made it impossible to stand on the summit. I can imagine the cables vibrating like violin strings in weather like that.

The hill that I call the near hill might be the closest but it would still be quite a hike to reach it. I was surprised by the amount of snow still on it.

I love seeing the blue hills off in the distance and though I don’t climb for the view they do make it much more enjoyable. In case you’re wondering about my not climbing to see the view, if I did I’d be disappointed probably 80% of the time because you never know what haze, humidity, or weather in general will do to it. For instance on this day, though it looks like I could see clear to California, I couldn’t see the windmills over on Bean Mountain just a few miles away.

But I could see the shading on the hills and this is something I find very pleasing. I sat and admired them for a while.

I could also see ski areas on several distant mountains, none of which I know the name of. Skiers must be enjoying some fine spring skiing this year.

Common goldspeck lichens (Candelariella vitellina) grow profusely all over the bedrock up here. This crustose lichen is very granular and is often busy producing spores, but I didn’t see any of its fruiting bodies (apothecia) on this day. These lichens were once used to dye wool in Sweden but I can’t imagine how they got them off the rocks. Crustose lichens usually can’t be removed from the substrate they grow on without damaging it in some way.

I’m not sure what it was but the sun brought out golden highlights in this tiny insect’s wings. It was hanging on desperately trying not to be blown away in the strong wind, so I was able to get a shot of it. I’d guess that it was hardly more than a quarter inch long.

Tile lichens are areolate lichens, which are made up of many little lumps or islands. In the example above the black parts are its apothecia and the white parts are the body (Thallus.) The apothecia are even with or slightly below the surface of the thallus. Tile lichens grow on exposed rock in full sun and will even grow in winter if the temperature is slightly above freezing. I think this one might be Lecidea tessellata but with 136 species of tile lichens I could easily be wrong.

The natural depressions in the bedrock that I call birdbaths always have water in them, even when we had a drought two years ago, and that seems strange to me. What I think doesn’t matter though, because the birds do use them; last year I watched a dark eyed junco bathe in this small pool. I was a little disappointed at not seeing the large swaths of flowering red maples that I hoped to see from up here but even so I saw plenty of other beautiful things, and it was a great day for a climb.

Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve; they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion. ~Anatoli Boukreev

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At this time every year when the red maples bloom I get the urge to show you what a forest full of millions of red maple flowers looks like from above, so I pick a mountain and climb up above the treetops. This year I chose Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard because it offers a 360 degree view. The above photo shows the start of the trail. It was a sunny, hot Sunday that was supposed to have temperatures in the mid-80s F. It proved true; it reached 85 at my house and the weather people say it was the warmest Easter in 30 years. I’ve never had to use air conditioning in April, but I thought about it that day.

I’ve climbed this mountain fairly regularly for years now and have apparently walked right by this hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) growing right beside the trail every time. The things I don’t see often amaze me as much as the things I see do.  Hobblebush is one of our most beautiful native viburnums. The name hobblebush comes from the way the low growing branches, unseen under last year’s fallen leaves, can trip up or “hobble” a horse or hiker.

A pileated woodpecker had cut this tree right in half looking for insects. I’ve been cutting and splitting wood at work and the other day I split a log that had a huge colony of big black carpenter ants in it. A pileated woodpecker would have been very happy to have pecked at that tree.

An old pine tree had broken off halfway up its trunk and fallen onto the side of the trail. We’ve had some strong winds lately so I wasn’t surprised.

I turned about halfway up the trail to take a photo of Mount Monadnock and I could see by the haze that the views wouldn’t be good, but I wasn’t here for the views; I was here for the red haze produced by millions of red maples. I noticed that there was still snow at the edge of the meadow.

There was even more snow in this part of the meadow. It was hard to believe after a week of warm temperatures and such a hot day as this one. The haze made this view look almost surreal.

I love to see the shading on the distant hills. I saw something similar done in fabric once and it was a very beautiful piece of artwork. The idea must have come from a scene like this one.

Before you know it you can see the fire tower through the trees. This means you’re very close to the summit, but it also means you’ll climb the steepest part of the trail to reach it.

I hoped that all of those trees with bare branches would look like someone had washed them with red watercolor, but I’m not seeing that. My color finding software sees various shades of red in small amounts, but more gray. There are blueberry bushes and mountain ash trees out there too, and they also have red buds.

I got distracted by the clouds for a time.

The near hill showed what looked to be smudges of red but still not what I expected.

The wind whistled loudly through the steel structure of the fire tower. One day last year was the only time I’ve ever seen this tower manned. The  New Hampshire Forestry Service lets people into the tower and quite a few people were going up on the day I was here. Many were children and I didn’t want them to miss their chance so I didn’t bother trying to get in.  This tower was built to replace the original wooden tower that burned in the 1940 Stoddard-Marlow fire. It was the biggest fire in the region’s history.

The tower is anchored to the bedrock by stout cables and it’s a good thing because the wind was so strong I couldn’t stand still swayed in the breeze. It was just as strong the last time I came here and each time was the strongest wind I’ve seen here.

Common goldspeck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) is a crustose lichen that is very granular. Its round, almost microscopic fruiting bodies (apothecia) are hard to see in the photo but they are there. This lichen contains a yellow pigment called calysin and was once used in Sweden to dye wool yellow. It must have been difficult scraping it off the rocks that it grew on and I would imagine that yellow wool in Sweden was very expensive then.

An areolate lichen is one in which the body is made up of many little lumps or islands. The tile lichen (Lecidea tessellata) in the above photo fits that description well. Its black fruiting bodies (apothecia) are even with, or slightly sunken into the surrounding body (thallus). There are 136 species of tile lichens and identification is difficult without a microscope, so the species name in this case is a guess on my part. Tile lichens grow on rock in full sun, winter and summer.

Depressions in the stone catch water and I’ve always called them birdbaths. On this day there was actually a bird there, drinking and bathing.

I think it was a dark eyed junco but I don’t know birds well so I hope someone more knowledgeable in the subject might correct me if I’m wrong.  It was gray on top and white underneath, and was just a little smaller than a robin.

Though the birdbath looks quite big in the photo it isn’t more than 5 inches deep and hardly as big in diameter as an adult bicycle tire. There seems to always be water in it no matter how long we go without rain.

In the end I didn’t get the photo of the red maples that I had hoped but it wasn’t because there aren’t any red maples here. The target canker on the bark of this tree tells me it’s a red maple because, if I understand what I’ve read correctly, red maple is the only maple that gets target canker. I think, though there are plenty of red maples here, the buds simply hadn’t opened yet. Though the buds have fully opened in Keene Pitcher Mountain lies far enough north of town to make a difference, so maybe they were still closed.

But I still had plan B, which was to visit these red maples that grow along a very busy stretch of highway in Keene. I couldn’t show them from above but at least they give some idea of what we see here each spring.

Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve; they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion. ~Anatoli Boukreev

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1. Sign

Last Saturday was relatively warm and sunny so I decided to go for a climb. I chose Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard because it is one of the few places in the area where you can find a place to park before you climb. Many haven’t been plowed.

2. Trail

I wasn’t sure if I’d make it without snowshoes but the trail looked to be good and packed down and even though the snow drifts were waist deep in places, I was able to get by with just gaiters and Yak Trax. It was slow going though and I had to stop frequently to catch my breath.

3. Deer Browsed Maple

I noticed that deer and other animals had been using the snow packed trail too, and deer had been browsing the bushes and trees along the sides as this young maple shows.  The buds of some maples look a lot like oak buds but oaks have alternate branching. Since this tree has opposite branching it must be a maple.

4. Rabbit Tracks

Rabbits were using the packed snow trail too even though they were light enough to hop on top of the snow without sinking in.

5. Staghorn Sumac

It looked like the rabbits had been eating the bark off all of the staghorn sumacs. I wonder if that means that they’re having trouble finding food.

6. Spruce

The snow was deep enough in places to make walking close to impossible if I had stepped off the packed trail. I decided that I didn’t want to wade through that much snow, so I stayed on it. I saw places where deer had stepped off the trail and sank into the soft snow probably up to their bellies. I felt bad for them-they must be having a very hard winter this year.  At least the snow isn’t crusty on top so it shouldn’t be cutting their legs all up.

7. Meadow

When I reached what I call the meadow I saw why there were snow drifts along the trail; the wind had scoured parts of these pastures almost down to bare grass, blowing it all toward the trail. I keep hoping that I’ll see the Scottish highland cattle that wander these pastures, but I never have. They probably don’t want to wade through the deep snow either.

8. Snow and Sky

In the book Country Editor’s Boy Hal Borland speaks of the high plains of Colorado, and how when he was a boy there was an unbroken view to the horizon in any direction. There wasn’t a tree or hill or building to add any interest, he said, and I wondered as I stopped and saw this view if this is what it was like. For someone like me who lives in a forest, seeing a view like this is like seeing the surface of another planet. I’m not sure how long I could stand it.

 9. Fire Tower

The fire tower hasn’t blown off the mountain yet. Since I learned that this tower was built as a replacement for the original 1915 wooden tower that burned down in April of 1940 in the most destructive forest fire that this area has ever seen, I see it as a kind of monument to irony.

10. Wind Rippled Snow

You could see that plenty of wind had blown through here but on this day there was only a slight breeze, so it wasn’t too bad. It could have been much worse.

11. Ranger Cabin

After all the snow we’ve had this year I thought the fire warden’s cabin would be either flattened or buried but it looked as if someone had shoveled it out and had been shoveling the roof as well. Now that’s a job that I wouldn’t want, no matter what it paid.

 12. Meadow from Above

For a change it wasn’t hazy at all and the views were good. Mount Monadnock was clearly visible over the meadow to the right.

13. Unknown Hill

I don’t know the name of this hill but I wish I did because it’s a beauty. Someday I’m going to have to get a topographical map of this area and earn the names of all of these hills.

 14. Lichens

The sun and wind had done their work on the many rocks found on the summit so there were plenty of lichens to see. The yellow orange ones are common gold speck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) and the black and white ones are tile lichens tile lichens (Lecidea tessellate.)

15. Scattered Rock Posy Lichen

The biggest surprise of the day was this scattered rock posy lichen (Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans.) For years I knew of one nickel sized example and then last year I found another and then another, and now I seem to be seeing them everywhere.

16. Rolling Snow

The going was much slipperier and tougher on the way down than it had been on the way up and I wished that I could just curl into a ball and roll down the mountain side. By the time I reached the bottom I knew that I wasn’t going to be good for much of anything else that day, and I was glad that I had nothing left to do.

Perhaps there’s no better act of simplification than climbing a mountain. For an afternoon, a day, or a week, it’s a way of reducing a complicated life into a simple goal. All you have to do is take one step at a time, place one foot in front of the other, and refuse to turn back until you’ve given everything you have. ~Ken Ilgunas

Thanks for stopping in. Don’t forget to turn the clocks one hour ahead tonight!

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1. Trail

A friend of mine who moved to California many years ago came back east for a visit recently and, since it was a beautiful summery day with low humidity we decided to climb Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, New Hampshire. This mountain was named for the Pitcher family who settled here in the 1700s. The trail is actually a road so the fire wardens, technicians, and others can easily drive almost all the way to the top. Hiking it takes about 15 minutes with no stops.

2. Meadow

Before long you reach the pasture where Scottish highland cattle are kept. They weren’t here this day, but there were plenty of wildflowers to admire.

3. Grass Flowering

Grasses were also flowering. They are beautiful when they bloom.

 4. Trail

Nearer to the top the trail gets steeper and rockier.

5. Ranger Station

Before you know it you’re at the old ranger station. There is a shed and an outhouse out in back.

6. Firetower Anchor

It isn’t hard to imagine the mighty winds that must blow up here. The fire tower is tied down to solid granite in several places so it doesn’t blow off the mountain.

7. Fire Tower

Ironically the original wooden fire tower built here in 1915 was destroyed by fire in April of 1940. 27,000 acres of forest burned, including the fire tower and all of the trees on the summit.  It was the most destructive fire in the region’s history and burned the top of the mountain right down to bare granite. There are 16 active fire towers in the state, but this one is only manned when the fire danger is high. It has microwave transmitters and receivers on it, and I’m never really sure what to think about that.

8. Blueberry

Blueberry bushes have colonized the mountaintop and this is a favorite spot to come and pick them. Sometimes entire families will come and pick buckets full of berries. There are acres of them and there always seems to be enough for everybody.

9. Mountain View

Others come for the views, which on this day were quite good.

10. Lichens

I always have to take a close look at the lichens when I come here, even though they never seem to change. Orangey-yellowish common gold speck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) and black and white tile lichen (Lecidea tessellata) appear here with small spots of pale yellow sulfur fire dot lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens.)

 11. Cloudscape

I took this shot more for the clouds than anything else. I like the way that they float off into infinity. According to Henry David Thoreau mountain tops were sacred and mysterious places to Native Americans and they never visited them. “Only daring and insolent men go there” he said, but I didn’t feel particularly daring or insolent on this day.

 12. Glacial Striations

Deep striations in the granite are a reminder that this entire region was once under ice. It’s hard to imagine ice thick enough to cover these mountains.

 13. Triangulation Station

Even on mountain tops, trigonometry.

14. Monadnock

As you start back down the path on this, the second highest mountain in the region, you are greeted by a view of Mount Monadnock, which is the highest. The sun coming through the clouds was doing some strange things to the colors of the hills, making them look like a painting.

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. ~Rene Daumal

Thanks for coming by. Happy first day of summer!

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We had another warmish, sunny weekend day last week so I decided to see how climbing Pitcher Mountain in winter was.

1. Stoddard Church

Pitcher Mountain is in Stoddard New Hampshire, a small town north east of Keene. The town was named after Colonel Sampson Stoddard of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, the charter being granted to him and others on May 10, 1752. The population has fluctuated over the years, falling to as low as 100 people in 1900 to around 1000 today. According to the town’s website the Congregational Church was organized in 1787 but the building in the photo wasn’t built until 1836.

 2. Pitcher Mountain Sign 

Even though Pitcher Mountain is, at 2,152 feet (656 m), the second highest mountain in this area after Mount Monadnock, most of the elevation can be gained by driving so you only have to hike the last 300 feet. In fact, if the gate that the fire warden passes through was open you could drive almost to the top with a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

According to the good folks at the Cheshire County Historical Society Pitcher Mountain gets its name from the Pitcher family, who settled in this area in the late 1700s. Their house was located just a stone’s throw from this sign, right where the parking lot is today. They must have been hardy souls. This is rugged country for farming.

 3. Pitcher Mountain Trail

The elevation gain may be only 300 feet but the trail is steep enough for me to have to stop occasionally to huff and puff and look at interesting things. Several web sites say that if you don’t stop you can reach the summit in about 15 minutes, but what is the hurry?

4. Pitcher Mountain Pasture

The trail skirts a large pasture in places. The owners raise Scottish Highland Cattle here but I didn’t see any of them this day.

 5. Scottish Highland Cattle

Scottish highland cattle look well equipped for our winter weather. This photo is from Wikipedia.

 6. Pitcher Mountain Fire Tower

It isn’t long before you get a glimpse of the fire tower through the apple trees and blueberry bushes. The spacing of the apple trees tells me that there used to be an orchard here. Now people come from miles around to pick the blueberries, and with 50 acres of bushes there must be plenty to go around.

 7. Pitcher Mountain Ranger Cabin

The old fire warden’s cabin still stands but doesn’t look like it sees much use even though the tower is staffed from April through October. There is a privy out in back of the cabin so there probably isn’t any running water here.

 8. Pitcher Mountain Fire Tower

The 5 acres at the very top of Pitcher Mountain are owned by the New Hampshire Forestry Commission. They first built a wooden fire tower here in 1915 but in April of 1940 a fire destroyed 27,000 acres of forest, including the fire tower and all of the trees on the summit.  It was the most destructive fire in the region’s history. The present steel tower is a replacement and, because of the lack of trees, offers a full 360 degree view of the surrounding hills.

 9. Pitcher Mountain View to North East

Lovewell mountain lies somewhere to the north, just north of Washington, New Hampshire but I couldn’t see it on this day because of the haze. These hills make up the Monadnock highlands which separate the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.

 10. Pitcher Mountain View to West

This hill off to the west looked almost close enough to touch but it would have been quite a hike to the top of it from here.

 11. Pitcher Mountain Pasture

This is the view of the pasture we passed in photo number 4 from above. The cattle have quite a view.

 12. Pitcher Mountain Rock with Lichens

I wondered if these steel rods hammered into the rock were once used for tying down the fire tower.  It was pretty cool with a gusty wind on the summit, so I didn’t stand around wondering for too long.  I was also interested in the lichens. The steel rod was about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter, so that should give you an idea of how small the lichens were.

 13. Common Goldspeck Lichen

Common goldspeck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) is a crustose lichen that seems very granular when you get a close look at it, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten in a photo. You can just make out a couple of its round, almost microscopic fruiting bodies (apothecia) in the center of the photo. This lichen contains a yellow pigment called calysin and was once used in Sweden to dye wool yellow. It must have been difficult scraping it off the rocks that it grew on and I would imagine that yellow wool in Sweden was very expensive then.

14. Tile Lichen

An areolate lichen is one in which the body is made up of many little lumps or islands. The tile lichen (Lecidea tessellata) in the above photo fits that description well. Its black fruiting bodies (apothecia) are even with, or slightly sunken into the surrounding body (thallus). There are 136 species of tile lichens and identification is difficult without a microscope. I’ve made a guess at the identity of this one hoping that someone will correct me if I’m wrong. Tile lichens grow on rock in full sun and can grow through winter in temperatures that are just above freezing.

 15. Monadnock From Pitcher Mountain

As you head back down the trail you are greeted by a view of Mount Monadnock to the south, the only mountain in this region taller than the one you’re standing on.

I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it. ~Author unknown

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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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