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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking at Lichen

Last night a friend gave me a field guide about lichens. That brings my total volumes on that topic to two. Probably inadequate, but maybe enough for a start. Once is specific to Michigan, and one to the "north woods." So, I snapped a couple of pictures of lichens I see all the time today. Thought I'd ID them for you. Ha.

Here is where one problem raises its ugly head. This is a short entry from the book. "Members of the Parmelia are foliose and usually attached to trees, rocks, or other substrates by rhizines. The apothecia occur on the thallus surface and are leconorine. The photobiont is Trebouxia.

Okey-dokey, then. I was good through "substrates."

First of all, I've learned really fast that they are like mushrooms. I need to learn to look at the underside too, and check that color. That's my big lesson of the day.

Next lesson- a lot of things that look alike, aren't the same thing. Here's what I learned from today's pictures.

There are at least two kinds of lichen in this shot. Maybe three, or perhaps the green is a moss. I'm going to have to pump up the levels of observation if I'm going to do this. There's the big foliose, flabby stuff. And there's a small, crustose (crusty) blue-gray stuff more generally covering the bark. Those are definitely lichen.


And that green flabby stuff is not all the same. That one above is probably a different species from this one.


Let's learn two words tonight. I'm assuming you already know that lichen is not an organism in its own right, but is a symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungus. More on that later.

Here's the first word- it appears in the jibberish above: Microbiont. That's the fungal part of any lichen.

Next let's try apothecia. That's a disk or cup-shaped structure that produces spores for the microbiont (see just-learned word!)

Are we having fun yet?

And here's a comment on field guides. You'd think the Michigan Lichens book would be perfect, because it's specific to where I am. However, the intro is pretty technical, and the photos are very close-up. Good to have, but maybe not a book to learn the basics with. Lichens of the North Woods is focused geographically on the UP and upper Minnesota. But the introduction is a lot more readable with drawings to aid in understanding. I expect I'll see a lot of those lichens here, and the photos give a longer view. And you need both views if you get serious!

I think we can safely say that I don't know diddly-squat about lichens.

See Likin' the Lichen I
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jeanlivingsimple said...

Very interesting. I didn't know there was a Field Guide on Lichens. I have often wondered about these cool plants/fungi.

Duxbury Ramblers said...

I know even less than diddly-squat, always found them fascinating & wanted to know more :)

Ann said...

now if I had seen this on a tree I would have just called it a fungus. It sounds like those books are not made for people like me who are totally clueless.

The Furry Gnome said...

Great! You're going to teach me to identify lichens! Looking forward to it.

Secondary Roads said...

Seems to me that "apothecia" must have come from a Latin version of the Bible.

vanilla said...

May I please audit the course? Because my GPA would be adversely affected if I had to take it for credit.

Lin said...

Head. Gonna. Splode.

How about I just say "ooooh, that's some pretty pale green 'stuff.'"

RNSANE said...

Good grief, I know very little from Sunset's Western Garden Book...lichens will elude me for all my remaining years.

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