31 Days of Kissing the Wounds :: Day 13 ~ R̶o̶s̶e̶s̶ Lichens Grow

damagedshellpinepoint29may2015logo31daysWelcome to Day 13 of 31 Days of Kissing the Wounds, a month of posts about the beauty, longing, and soul inherent in our damaged selves; in the world’s brokenness; in the imperfection, incompleteness, and transience of all that we love; in our recognition of each other as the walking wounded; and in the jagged, messy, splintery, deformed, sullied, unhealed parts of me, you, the natural world, our communities, the culture. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others.

*

“The black rock was sharp-edged, hot, and hard as corundum; it seemed not merely alien but impervious to life. Yet on the southern face of almost every rock the lichens grew, yellow, rusty-brown, yellow-green, like patches of dirty paint daubed on the stone.” ― Edward Abbey, The Brave Cowboy: An Old Tale in a New Time

The resilient lichens grew, in places that seemed impervious to life, like patches of dirty paint on stone.

yellow lichen on stone post, Path of Life, Windsor, VT, Oct. 2016
yellow lichen on stone post, Path of Life, Windsor, VT, Oct. 2016

 

*

A lichen, which isn’t a plant, is at least two organisms combined, and probably at least three: a fungus (or two kinds of fungi), and either algae or cyanobacteria or both; and there may be other organisms in there as well:

“A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) living among filaments of a fungus [or two kinds of fungi, as is now thought] in a symbiotic relationship. The combined life form has properties that are very different from the properties of its component organisms. Lichens come in many colors, sizes, and forms. The properties are sometimes plant-like, but lichens are not plants. … Common names for lichens may contain the word “moss” (e.g., “Reindeer moss”, “Iceland moss”), and lichens may superficially look like and grow with mosses, but lichens are not related to mosses or any plant. Lichens do not have roots that absorb water and nutrients as plants do but like plants they produce their own food by photosynthesis using sunlight energy, from carbon dioxide, water and minerals in their environment. When they grow on plants, they do not live as parasites and only use the plants as a substrate.”

Lichen “are relatively self-contained miniature ecosystems in and of themselves, possibly with more microorganisms living with the fungi, algae, and/or cyanobacteria, performing other functions as partners in a system that evolves as an even more complex composite organism.”

“Lichens are said to be ‘species,’ but what is meant by ‘species’ is different from what is meant for plants, animals, and fungi, for which ‘species’ implies a common ancestral lineage. Lichens are really combinations of species from two or three different biological kingdoms, so there is no common lineage.”

(All quotes on lichen are from Wikipedia)

grey-green lichen, Audubon Center, Concord, NH, March 2016
grey-green lichen, Audubon Center, Concord, NH, March 2016
lichen and moss on tree trunk, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015
lichen and moss on tree trunk, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015
lichen and moss on tree trunk, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015
lichen and moss on tree trunk, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015

*

Kinds of lichen (described by shape of ‘vegetative body parts’):
Fruticose: looks like like a multiply branched tuft or leafless mini-shrub
Foliose: has leaf-like structures
Crustose: grows like an orange crust coating a rock
Crustose placodioid: grows like a crust in a pattern that radiates outward from the center
Leprose: grows like powder dusted on a rock
Gelatinous: without internal structure for its parts
Filamentous: stringy or like matted hair
Byssoid: wispy, like teased wool

dendrite lichen on yellow birch, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015
dendrite lichen on yellow birch, Clark Pond Trail, NH, Feb. 2015
dendrite lichen, Knights Hill Nature Park, NH, Dec. 2015
dendrite lichen, Knights Hill Nature Park, NH, Dec. 2015
Hercules' club trunk with lichen, Jekyll Island, GA, Sept. 2013
Hercules’ club trunk with lichen, Jekyll Island, GA, Sept. 2013
lichen circle, West End Farm Trail, Concord, NH Nov. 2012
lichen circle, West End Farm Trail, Concord, NH Nov. 2012
lichen circle, Clark Pond Trail, Feb. 2015
lichen circle, Clark Pond Trail, Feb. 2015
leafy lichen, Oak Hill Trails, Concord, NH, March 2016
leafy lichen, Oak Hill Trails, Concord, NH, March 2016
lichen in snow, Knights Hill Nature Park, NH, Dec. 2014
lichen in snow, Knights Hill Nature Park, NH, Dec. 2014
lichen on dogwood shrub, in my NH yard, Oct 2015
lichen on dogwood shrub, in my NH yard, Oct 2015

*

“Special pigments, such as yellow usnic acid, give lichens a variety of colors, including reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, especially in exposed, dry habitats. In the absence of special pigments, lichens are usually bright green to olive gray when wet, gray or grayish-green to brown when dry.”

pink earth lichen (Dibaeis Baeomyces), Great Brook Trail, NH, Oct. 2014
pink earth lichen (Dibaeis Baeomyces), Great Brook Trail, NH, Oct. 2014
pink lichen colony, Bunker Loop, NH, Dec. 2015
pink lichen colony, Bunker Loop, NH, Dec. 2015
Cryptothecia Rubrocincta (pink bubble gum or Christmas) lichen, Jekyll Island, GA, Dec, 2015
Cryptothecia Rubrocincta (pink bubble gum or Christmas) lichen, Jekyll Island, GA, Dec, 2015
pink lichen, West End Farm Trail, Concord, NH, Nov. 2014
pink lichen, West End Farm Trail, Concord, NH, Nov. 2014
Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers) lichen, Northern Rail Trail, NH, June 2014
Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers) lichen, Northern Rail Trail, NH, June 2014
Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers) lichen, in my NH yard, Oct. 2015
Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers) lichen, in my NH yard, Oct. 2015
red lichen on log, Clark Pond Trail, NH, April 2016
red lichen on log, Clark Pond Trail, NH, April 2016
yellow lichen with fungi on tree, New London, NH, Oct 2015
yellow lichen with fungi on tree, New London, NH, Oct 2015
yellow lichen, Hyannis, Cape Cod, MA, June 2016
yellow lichen, Hyannis, Cape Cod, MA, June 2016

*

“Lichens can survive unprotected in space. …. [T]wo species of lichen—Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans—were sealed in a capsule and launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket 31 May 2005. Once in orbit, the capsules were opened and the lichens were directly exposed to the vacuum of space with its widely fluctuating temperatures and cosmic radiation. After 15 days, the lichens were brought back to earth and were found to be in full health with no discernible damage from their time in orbit.”

*

“It is estimated that 6% of Earth’s land surface is covered by lichen.”

lichen and heather near Great Island Trail, Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MA, June 2016
lichen and heather near Great Island Trail, Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MA, June 2016
lichen, Chipman Hill, Trail Around Middlebury, Middlebury VT, Nov. 2015
lichen, Chipman Hill, Trail Around Middlebury, Middlebury VT, Nov. 2015
reindeer lichen, Ocean Point Preserve, Boothbay, ME, May 2014
reindeer lichen, Ocean Point Preserve, Boothbay, ME, May 2014

*

“Many lichens are very sensitive to environmental disturbances and can be used in cheaply assessing air pollution, ozone depletion, and metal contamination.”

black lichen and moss on log, Jackson Trail, Trail Around Middlebury, VT, Nov. 2015
black lichen and moss on log, Jackson Trail, Trail Around Middlebury, VT, Nov. 2015

*

The lichen in summary:

  • a complex partnership — in fact, symbiosis began with lichens
  • can live in space and on Mars
  • can live in the Arctic, alpine regions, and in deserts
  • can live on rocks, in rocks, on buildings, in sand, or in the air their whole lives
  • can live without water for long periods
  • after natural disasters and cataclysmic events, they’re the first life forms to move into the area
  • they may look cracked, messy, damaged, dried-up, and completely undistinguished, but they’re alive and have been for at least 400 million years

If you’re amazed by them like I am, check out “How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology” in the 21 July 2016 Atlantic magazine.

star-tipped reindeer lichen Clark Pond Trail, NH, Sept. 2016
star-tipped reindeer lichen Clark Pond Trail, NH, Sept. 2016

*

Up through the cracks

Up through the broken glass
In the hot red light of a black and white
Roses grow

— Concrete Blonde, “Roses Grow”

*

Thanks for checking in. Be sure to see what the other 31 Dayers are writing about.

damagedshellpinepoint29may2015largelogo31days

 

 

One Comment on “31 Days of Kissing the Wounds :: Day 13 ~ R̶o̶s̶e̶s̶ Lichens Grow

  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Kissing the Wounds :: Introduction – A Moveable Garden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: