Lichens are a strange kind of organism that is partly algae and partly fungi. They exhibit a great deal of variability in shape and colour and are found in all sorts of places – from the splash-zone rocks of the seashore, to high altitude boulders, to living and dead trees and wood, and man-made objects of almost every conveivable material – provided the environment is right. They are supposed to favour clean, fresh air. Each species has a defined habitat preference.
Lichens can be smooth and glossy coatings; dry and scabby encrustations; leaf-like; finely-branched; or lacey. They can grow as individuals that slowly increase in area and/or height. They can grow in groups of the same species that remain separate or that eventually coalesce to form a patchwork of similar colours – perhaps with matching or contrasting dots of colour provided by the fruiting bodies. They can grow intermingled with a variety of other lichen types with different, contrasting, or co-ordinating colours and morphology.
Though difficult to name, they are frequently interesting to observe. The abstract patterns that they make on variable substrates are often attractive and also a source of artistic inspiration.
Revision of a post first published November 2009
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011
All Rights Reserved