Sunday, January 06, 2019

Chameleon lichen

After a few days of strong winds, the forest floors are littered with broken branches, dead leaves, conifer needles, and lichens; clumps and threads and whole branch-loads of lichens.

Two lichens; Lungwort and a beard lichen. On a Bigleaf maple mulch.

High on the trees, where the rain drains away quickly and the lichen is exposed to sunlight, the thallus is a mix of browns, from pale beige to dark chocolate brown, to a yellowish mid-brown. In the shade, where it's still dry, it's a paler greenish-grey. Tossed down here onto the wet ground, and then rained on, it turns a bright green on top, and a pale blue-grey on the underside.

The beard lichen, those pale threads mixed in with the lungwort, stay the same colour whatever the weather.

I didn't know this:

L. pulmonaria has the ability to form both vegetative propagation and sexual propagules at an age of about 25 years. ... Dispersal by vegetative propagules (via soredia or isidia) has been determined as the predominant mode of reproduction in L. pulmonaria. ...In this method, the protruding propagules become dry and brittle during the regular wet/dry cycles of the lichen, and can easily crumble off the thallus. These fragments may develop into new thalli, either at the same locale or at a new site after dispersal by wind or rain. (Wikipedia)

25 years! Lichen is slow-growing. How many years does it take to completely coat a tree, like the one I posted yesterday?



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