Just because there is snow on the ground does not mean there is nothing to see! This is the perfect time of year to look for lichens.
Keith gave me the lichen guidebook to beat all lichen guidebooks, Lichens of North America (read my full review of this guidebook HERE!), for Valentines Day last year. That, and orchids! Have you ever heard of more perfect Valentines gifts? Of course, I post a picture of the-best-valentines-day-ever on Facebook and I must have had a dozen people say…..”Pretty flowers, but what the hell is a lichen?”
Lichens…. they are not mosses. They are not plants. They are not mushrooms.
Thanks to symbiosis (what!? high school science?!), or the interaction between two different organisms, we get the joining of algae and fungi. Lichen! Ta da!
Theses are a few we’ve seen as of late. Opinions on IDs are welcome 🙂
Chrysothrix candelaris, or gold dust lichen. This is not one I see often. But how could you not love a tree speckled with gold? Usually found on tree trunks in rich, shady areas, it is a leprose lichen with no obvious fruiting bodies, reproducing by it’s thallus being spread by animals, wind, or clumsy folks like me bumping into the trunk and transporting the spores to a new location!
(Unsure of what leprose or thallus means? Look for a lichen glossary coming very very very soon….)
This is one of the best. Graphis scripta. Common script lichen. Usually found on smooth bark, which is handy, since that makes them easy to read. Graphis scripta is the only script lichen I am aware of in New England, but I hear that there are 25 species in Florida! Lucky, lucky, Florida!
Lecidella euphorea, one of the disk lichens. At first I thought it was Lecidella stigmatea, but L. stigmatea only grows on rocks. This is not a rock! Reason #48 I really should be putting these lichens under a scope to properly ID.
Physcia americana, one of the rosette lichens (eehhhh, I think). Check out that sexy fruiting body!!!
The classic ball-o-lichen at the end of branch! Tuckermannopsis americana or ciliaris, maybe? Tuckermannopsis are the ruffle lichens (or wrinkle lichens, but I prefer ruffle, thankyouverymuch). Usually found on trees rather than rock, and ,well, ruffle-y!
Xanthoparmelia species!? Looks to be one of the rock shield lichens. Positive IDs these really need microscopy and chemical analysis. But…. they are reeealllly cool.
And THIS is why we love lichens. Look at the colors on this one small piece of bark! How many varieties are on this one sample… 5? 6? Awesome.
Expect more lichens soon, since it is winter. If this weather keeps up we may just see skunk cabbage poking up sooner that later, though!!
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