Friday, January 18, 2008

Lichens On Parade


Here's a little of what the lichen page on Backyard Nature has to say:

Structurally, lichens are among the most bizarre of all forms of life. That's because every lichen species is actually composed of two, possibly even three, distinct species of organisms. One species is a kind of fungus. Usually the other species is an alga, but sometimes it can be a photosynthesizing bacterium known as a cyanobacterium. Sometimes all three organisms are found in one lichen.

In this amazing association the fungus benefits from the algae because fungi, having no chlorophyll, can't photosynthesize their own food. A lichen's fungal part is thus "fed" by its photosynthesizing algal part. The algae benefit from the association because the fungus is better able to find, soak up, and retain water and nutrients than the algae. Also, the fungus gives the resulting lichen shape, and provides the reproductive structures. This kind of relationship between two or more organisms, where both organisms benefit, is known as mutualism.


After doing a little research, I concluded that identifying lichens is a lot like identifying mosses: I'd have a lot more success at learning to flap my arms and fly than at pinning down a lichen ID. Therefore, I shall be content just displaying photos of the lichens I've found recently. If you want to learn more, visit Backyard Nature or Earthlife. By studying those pages (and all the additional links they provide) you can become a lichen expert, while I just wander around taking photos and enjoying nature.

Have fun!




Anonymous said...

Great vibrant green. And I also like the red and tan. I guess lichens, like mosses, are better enjoyed than analyzed.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes Marvin I would be out there flapping with you. It isn't necessary to "understand" beauty. Beauty should be a joyful experience. Just enjoy it as I enjoy seeing your photos. They are simply marvelous and do not need to be identified.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

P.S. Wouldn't the first picture and the last picture make a great puzzle to try to put together on a cold winters evening?? :)

Q said...

Dear Marvin,
Mosses and lichens and fungi..oh my! They are very beautiful. I bet they look different from region to region too and from time of year!
I have guide books for fungi but not for mosses. Like with so much of Nature these darlings could take an entire lifetime of study.
Do keep taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. They are works of art.
When I am in the woods I enjoy all of the understorey. At home I like to "know" what is this or that.
As I look at your pictures I have a desire to know at least one of the mosses and lichens and fungi.
Perhaps I will get some more books and see if I can figure out at least one moss in 2008! Right now my mosses and lichens and fungi are under snow. It is zero degrees,
8:30 am....cold.
Too cold for even photos.

Tom said...

This is a subject that really is a puzzler... both myself and Peter from
take a lot of pictures of these, but naming them is a nightmare.

I'm off to view the links now and have a nosy around there..

smilnsigh said...

With a Subject Line like that, this photo is a little bit scary. ,-)

Wow, I didn't know they came in Red!!!


Lana Gramlich said...

How fascinating! Thanks for sharing the info (& the lovely photos, as usual. :)

Mary said...

Marvin, when I walk in the woods on campus, I'm always looking at lichen. I don't know much about it but I find it interesting. Thanks for the information. Your photos are very good!

Anonymous said...

I love the yellow in the first one! WOW

lisa said...

Way cool! The first pic looks a lot like lithops to me. Amazing tiny jungles out there if you look closely enough. Thank you for looking and sharing photos!