Tuesday, 3 April 2012

ABC Wednesday – L is for Lichen

Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic organism composed of a fungus with a  green alga or cyanobacterium.  So now you know!  Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on Earth.  Some lichens have the aspect of leaves (foliose lichens); others cover the surface like a crust (crustose lichens); others adopt shrubby forms (fruticose lichens), and there are also gelatinous lichens.  There are 1873 species listed in 'The Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland' - that's more lichens than there are native plants. Some are extinct but more are still being discovered each year, either new to the region or new to science.  The world lichen list probably stands at around 17,000 although it is difficult to be precise since many regions have not been thoroughly searched.

Herere some of the British lichens I have photographed.  Most species do not have a common name but a few do and I have included a few of those. 

 There are at least seven species of lichen in this photo.

 Woodlands and sea shores are the best places to spot lichens.

 Sometimes you can see the fruiting bodies in them.

  Cap Lichen (Caloplaca heppiana)

 Reindeer Moss (Cladonia species) N.B. not a moss but a lichen but the green stuff below it is a moss.

 Trumpet Lichen (Cladonia species)

 Matchstick Lichen  (Cladonia floerkeana)

 Pixie Cups (Cladonia pyxidata)

Oakmoss  (Evernia prunastri)

Elegant Script Lichen  (Graphis elegans)

 Disc Lichen (Tremolecia atrata syn. Lecidea dicksonii)

 Dog Lichen (Peltigera species)

 Antler Lichen (Pseudoevernia furfuracea)

Old Man's Beard (Usnea species)

Over 600 substances have been extracted from lichens which help them to survive in marginal environments and ward off attacks by bacteria, other fungi and grazing herbivores. These substances include pigments used in dyeing, toxins, air pollution monitors, perfumes, food and antibiotics used in medicines.

 (I am not a lichenologist so please do not rely on my identifications - there are dozens of similar species and many are very hard to identify.)
If you would like to see more examples of how the letter L has been handled by the Alphabet Wednesday crew please visit the ABC link site.

Scheduled to come on at midnight NZST. We shall see if Blogger obliges! It's been changing my scheduled posts back to drafts a lot of the time.


  1. I love lichen! We have some in our yard and I never tire of looking at them. I'm including a link (http://silkepowers.blogspot.com/2012/01/road-trip-amelia-island-part-2.html) to a post on my blog that has lots of photos of lichen from an island near here. Hope you are having a great day!! xo Silke

  2. Thanks Silkwe - can I mention here to other readers that Silke has another giveaway this week at Metamorphosis.

    1. How beautiful are these photos! I didn't know there were so many species of lichen.In New Zealand I saw many species of lichen on trees exposed to wind and rain .
      Did you read "Trouble With Lichen"by John Wyndham?
      Thanks for your visit
      Wil ABC Wednesday Team.

    2. You did a lot of research for this post! The most beautiful to me are the reindeer and trumpet mosses and antler lichen. Thanks for sharing, Scriptor!

  3. Fantastic photos of lichens.
    We have quite a few here in Wales and lots around here in the part where I live - I must try and photograph some.

  4. I love lichens and photograph them whenever I see them. Although, here in the southwest, they do not abound as they do where you are (and I am deeply envious of that). You are very knowledgeable on lichens! As for me, I am a bit lame at identification. But, you have inspired me to rise to the occasion.

  5. These are wonderful pictures. I love the miniature landscapes at our feet, and those on rocks and the sides of trees.

  6. Fascinating pictures! now I know a lichen grew in my garden, over a cut pine tree...! I had no idea...

    L is for...

  7. Hello.
    Who knew fungus could actually look so pretty. Nice selection of photos. Thanks for sharing & visiting.

    Like A Lotus...

  8. Fascinating post and photographs. I also like spotting lichens and they make a great photographic subject. Carver, ABC Wednesday Team

  9. I admit that I know very little about lichen but I do find lichen fascinating.I had no idea there were so many different kinds!

  10. The variety is amazing, and I'm surprised how beautiful they are.

  11. How very picturesque and clingy some Lichens are and how beautifully you photographed a wide variety of them. I like how the Old Man’s Beard sprouts out in the last shot. :)

  12. I LEARNED a LOT about LICHEN!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  13. What a lovely lot of lichen - I was aware that there were a lot but have never studied the subject - there sure is more to them than meets the eye.

  14. These lichens are fascinating. There are some on the rowan tree (in North America, the tree is called a mountain ash) outside my window as I type this. I love the look of them -- they're little roundish balls, and make the tree look as if it's covered with flowers, even though none of the leaves have opened yet. I also like to put bits of branch with lichen on them into flower arrangements. A very sculptural and interesting addition.

    Have a great day! xoxox

  15. now i know what they're called--thanks to you.:p
    a marvelous collection---the oakmoss is my favorite.

  16. You can be a lichenologist any day I think. Very informative!

  17. Until our wanderings together I rarely took any notice of lichens - or insects. Now that I'm a bug addict when it comes to photography your latest post selection has made sure that I will start looking a lot more closely at lichens in future.

  18. I learned about lichens in my final year at high school. I took a class which I learned to love, which was really a mixture of natural history and botany. I think it was a kind of a stop-gap class for we who had a full day at school but were not taking enough A levels to fill the day. But it is one class where I learned a lot.

  19. Fascinating facts! and love all the photos.

  20. Wow that is a lot of Lichen. I didn't know there are plenty of species. Great shots!

    ABC Wed

  21. The only one I knew by name is the Reindeer moss which we here call either 'renlav' (reindeer lichen) or (wrongly) 'vitmossa' (white moss). When I checked it in Wiki just now I also found the name window moss which made me remember that in my childhood, my grandparents used to put in extra (double) windows in the winter and then they had this kind of lichen in between the panes at the bottom as windbreak+decoration.

  22. This is facinating. This is really a new subject for me. They are so beautiful, I love the Olds Mans Beard.

  23. I recognise some of those lichens - we grow them like crazy here in the Pacific northwest. I especially like the antler lichen. Old Man's Beard is everywhere - very spooky looking.

  24. Something very interesting that I learned today.

    Littlest Petshop
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  25. Gosh - 25 comments so far - that must be nearly a record for me. Thank you everyone for your interesting and kind remarks.

    I knew of a lot of uses for lichens but, Dawn Treader, you certainly added one to the lost. Double glazing infill sounds a great use for it.

    Sadly, despite all my photos, there are hardly any lichens in the immediate vicinty of where I live because so many are adversely affected by air pollution. If you have lots around you, breathe deeply and know you are taking in clean air!

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. I found this fascinating...thanks...wish you could come here and id all the lichens here...I think I will have to save this page as a resource to id various ones when I walk. Really nice place you have here.

  28. hmmmm! how did I miss your post and not visit you last week?

    You have done a wonderful post. Until yesterday, I don't think "lichen" and just think of moss. Now when I look at the lichens in my trees, I will remember they are lichens and think of you.

    I would like to see your moss.


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