Friday, March 25, 2016

Overlooked Scenery

While kayaking, it seems natural to take photos of reptiles, birds, scenic views and trash. Those are the things our eyes are quick to see. Something normally overlooked is Lichen (LIE-kin).

Several different species of lichen on this tree limb. Note the brown spots near the top of the photo.

Here is a lichen that looks a little like a pile of skulls.

Lichen can have a powdery like surface (left) or it can looked ruffled (right) and have hairs growing from it.

Lichen can be wirey looking and have mushroom like protuberences.

Lichen can be colorful like this rust colored one providing beautiful contrasts and hues. 

Here is a lichen that has raised black button like texture.

Here is a lichen that looks like old school textbook images of dividing bacteria.

There are approximately 3600 different species of Lichen in North America. It is reported that Lichens are the dominate vegetation on about 8 percent of the Earth's land surfaces.

Yet most people would not be able to identify and name a single species of Lichen if their life depended on it even though Lichens are so abundant. That is the sad state of outdoor science in the world today. The less people know about our living planet the less they will take responsible care of it.

Interestingly, Lichens which are so ignored are being used to gauge how severe air pollution is. Lichen could all die tomorrow and most people would never notice. That is sad.

So, next time you go out kayaking, or on a walk, put the phone away and slow down to look more closely at what is causing the different colors on tree trunks and tree branches. A magnifying glass will help enhance the view. There is much mystery and beauty in Lichens. All the above photos were taken yesterday while seated in the kayak.

There is also a superb book about Lichens available which can usually be found online for under a hundred dollars. "Lichens of North America" by Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff. The nearly 1000 stunning photographs alone make it a valuable coffee table book for guests to enjoy thumbing through the photography. The science behind Lichens and the detailed species information and distribition maps, plus the identification keys make the large 795 page book the authoritative reference guide to Lichens.

1 comment:

  1. I confess I don't know the names, but we have seen some amazing lichens while hiking in mountainous areas. The ones I like best look like two-dimensional roses.


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