Liking the Lichen

First off how the heck is it pronounced? It is from the Greek so should be pronounced liken, but lots of people say litchin and apparently that is also acceptable. So now you know, it doesn’t matter.photo of lichen

These are terribly exciting organisms consisting of two different life forms living symbiotically. One part is a fungus called a mycobiont and the other is a photobiont which is either a green alga or a cyanobacterium. The fungus provides the structure while the photobiont provides the food through photosynthesis. Neither can live without the other. There are four main structural forms; crustose, squamulose, foliose and fruticose. Aren’t those great names? There is much more detailed information here.photo of lichen

Lichens are a food source, habitat and camouflage for many insects, birds and reindeer. Woodland rich in lichen has been found to have more bio-diversity than those without. photo of lichen

Lichens are very fragile and susceptible to pollution, they tend not to re-establish themselves easily. So if you have lichen, look after it.

They can be found in almost any environment on earth; desert, tundra, rainforest and they will grow on trees, on rock and famously adorn old gravestones.

Some varieties have traditionally been eaten by humans; lichens are also used to produce dyes; some have antibacterial properties and of course model railway enthusiasts use them to make foliage. photo of lichen

So are we all liking the lichen now?

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