Lichen on tree bark
It is appropriate for there to be two spellings (and two pronunciations) for Lichen. That is because there needs to be a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria for a lichen to exist. Lichen is an organism that acts in a mutual relationship with algae converting sunlight into vital nutrients and sugar whilst the partner fungus acts as the host to the new organism. Thus a lichen is a composite organism that arises from living among multiple fungi species and algae. Lichens have different properties from those of its component organisms.
Fascinating facts about Lichen
- There are 20- 30,000 varieties of lichen with more being discovered every year
- Lichen takes a vital role in the formation of soil.
- Lichen grows on rocks, walls, buildings, trees and other hospitable surfaces.
- With careful study Lichen can help with navigation when walking in the countryside. It predominantly grows on the north side of trees where the wind comes from the west
- Sunshine can colour lichen in greens, greys, yellows or even reds dependent on variety and conditions.
- Lichen is a source of food for microbes insects and even reindeer. Some varieties are poisonous to humans.
- There are three distinct types of lichen: foliose, crustose, and fruticose. Foliose are leaflike in both appearance and structure, crustose have a crusty appearance.
- There are leafy lichen that thrive on rocks at he seaside called Xanthoria parietina with many common names like yellow scale, maritime sunburst lichen and shore lichen.
- Lichens of the species Ochrolechia and Umbilicaria can produce dyes of beautiful brilliant purple and red shades extracted by urine Orcein produces a reddish-brown dye
- Letharia vulpina or Wolf Lichen is a fruitose of fluorescent yellow color making a dye of a bright yellow color.
- The map lichen rhizocarpon geographicum is luminous green on the southern side where it can harvest more light and a black lines of spores with normal green due to less light on the north.
Lichen no a wall
- Lichen do not harm living trees nor take any food from the bark. They do appear on trees that are older or in decline for other reasons
- Lichen are long lived and slow growing