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Amazing Lichens

A storm brought down this decayed tree limb recently. The flat orange growth spreading on this limb, as well as the blue-green growths, are forms of lichen.It supports a large colony of lichens. I have always been amazed by these growths. 

Lichens do not cause harm to a tree, but they can be a sign of poor health. They are not parasitic but are opportunistic, taking advantage of poor growth and open light from thinning branches. They get their nutrients from the atmosphere, rather than from their hosts or from the soil. Lichens grow slowly, most only a few millimeters a year. Those that grow upright, such as the coral-like lichen in these photos, can grow up to a couple of centimeters, or a bit less than an inch a year. Given the right host and environmental conditions, they can survive on old trees and rocks for prolonged periods of time, hundreds and even thousands of years!

Lichens are susceptible to air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide. The presence of shrubby, hairy and leafy types of lichen is an indicator of good air quality, because these types of lichen are particularly vulnerable to pollution.Theses lichen indicate good air quality in my garden.

Some lichens in forests are important food sources for birds and other animals, and some lichens are useful for humans, providing food and used in producing dyes and perfumes. Currently, research is studying their potential use in antibiotics and sunscreens.


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Reader Comments (19)

Beautiful photos! Lichens are fascinating things.

August 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDebra

Beautiful! Like a miniature forest on their own :)

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Thanks for sharing about lichens! My boys have always loved collecting them, but I didn't know the info you shared.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristi {Jealous Hands}

Dear Deb, I am fascinated by Lichens, too! Thanks for this informative post and the great photos. Here in California you don't see them so often, because of our arid climate I guess, but I have always enjoyed looking at them on our trips to England.
Warm regards,

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

Lichens are wonderful, they almost seem like a miniature forest. We have lots of lichen on the trees in the garden here, in the countryside the air is clear and not polluted so they grow quite happily.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

They're beautiful. I've always found them fascinating but I don't think I've ever seen them here - not surprising I suppose given the general condition of LA's air quality.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

They are wonderful - and so very valuable. I love them too.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

Amazing indeed. Stunning structures and surprising colors.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

used to have lots of lichen on our ash trees in Porterville.
Not seeing it in our False Bay garden.

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Nifty! I'm also fascinated by lichens. Some of them even seem to thrive in winter weather (at least before it gets to subzero). Amazing!

August 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

Fascinating bit of information...They do make such interesting photos.

August 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

Thank you for the interesting information about lichens !!
Great shots !!
Greetings !

August 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEla

Have a lot of this on my property, too, but not as much of the coral-type -- truly neat looking.

August 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Jones

They are pretty too. I love the variety in your images. If they are found to be a good antibiotic, that would be wonderful since we have over-used the ones we have now. I often see them on my hikes, yet rarely photograph them or the mushrooms. So much to find. Your images are wonderful.

August 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Interesting post Deb, I did get information many years ago that Lichen on our trees was a sign of good air quality. Quite a surprise to me considering our back garden in Aberdeen backed on to a very busy dual carriageway. .

August 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

Hi Deb! Just realized that my reply to your post did not show up here...not sure what happened. Ill try again! What a really interesting post. I see a lot of lichens on our trees and they are really pretty but I never knew anything about them. I am going to pay closer attention to them now with all this interesting information!
Great post!

August 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Fascinating, I always love to see them, some are amazing colours and if you view them with a magnifying glass or a good macro zoom camera they are like flowers or at least incredible patterns.

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I learned some useful things to this post. We do see lichens on branches here, especially if they are dead or dying. I haven't paid much attention to what kind, though, which now I have a reason to do.

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I adore lichens and you have a wide variety of them...such beauty!

August 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

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