Lichens

24 Sep

Structurally, lichens are among the most bizarre of all forms of life. That’s because every lichen species is actually composed of two, possibly even three,  distinct species of  organisms. One species is a kind of fungus. Usually the other  species is an algae, but sometimes it can be a photosynthesizing bacterium known as a cyanobacterium. Sometimes all three organisms are found in one lichen. 

In this amazing association the fungus benefits from the algae because fungi, having no chlorophyll, can’t photosynthesize their own food. A lichen’s fungal part is thus “fed” by its photosynthesizing algal part. The algae benefit from the association because the fungus is better able to find, soak up, and retain water and nutrients than the algae. Also, the fungus gives the resulting lichen shape, and provides the reproductive structures.  Very cool!

Our property has a number of areas that are resplendent with lichen.  The best lichen spots are the areas with large areas of rock.  Here are just a few examples;

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P1030469

P1030479

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Think these are lovely?  Just wait until you see the fungus!

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2 Responses to “Lichens”

  1. ANDREA September 25, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    They really ARE beautiful aren’t they!
    I am enjoying your posts.

    • artfuss September 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

      The diversity is amazing, once you begin really looking. Fungus is next…

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