Friday, February 5, 2016

Just Wait Lichens Will Grow On You

I wanted to learn about lichens this winter.  So far I have learned that these tiny plants are legion in numbers and complicated.  Identification is a problem, but they still fascinate me.   Now when look at a stone or a dead branch,  I move in closer using my camera.  The scalloped edges on this grey lichen  captured my attention.           

We more commonly find moss growing on the ground itself or on rocks nearly totally buried in the soil.  Past attempts to move moss covered rocks in stone walls frequently results in the death of the moss.  During dry periods the lichens become brittle and dormant but regenerate when moisture returns.  When the moss becomes dry it usually disappears.  The small patches of moss and the lichens chose this spot to grow.  The process is a very slow one.

This fallen dead branch was found lying across the lane.  The brown shaggy growth covered the upper surface only and likely grew after the dead branch fell.  The light and dark green lichens were actively growing when the branch was alive and still attached to its tree.  Our tree surgeon told us that when these growths appear the tree is doomed to die and that nothing can be done to stop that final process.  It now appears that much more action follows the death of the branch.  This brown growth appeared quickly since we walk where it was found frequently and did not see it earlier.  We placed the fallen branch across the barbed wire fence for the photo.  It was returned to the ground so that the natural process already in motion could continue.

This bright yellow lichen was hard to miss.  We have to walk past this spot every time we leave the house via the basement ramp.  A closer inspection reveals bright yellow bubbly round growth when I scroll in on this picture.  Nature  has so much to for you see if you bother to notice!

Textbooks describe a large sea that once covered the area where we live.  The presence of the shell fossil points to sediments washing into that  sea covering the living mollusk.  The sediments became layers of stone and we are in awe whenever we find a well formed fossil.  The white blob remains an unsolved puzzle.  It resembles the silk that formed inside of a milkweed seed pod following exposure to rodents and birds that feed on the mature seeds.  Perhaps it is just that and it became stuck on the moss growing on this interesting stone.  Most years all this is covered with snow.  This February is different and I am enjoying  the view!


Esther Montgomery said...

I would love to be able to identify lichens and realise I haven't a hope - but, like you, I find them beautiful and interesting. How exciting to find the shell in the stone. It somewhat resembles bare feet set heel-to-heel - like a ballet dancer.

Esther Montgomery

Indie said...

Lichen can be so beautiful! I once bought a little tree from a nursery because the branches held an unusual looking yellow lichen. That would be so great to be able to identify all those lichen!