Sunday, March 02, 2008


On Saturday, we went to Nature Fest at the Jesse H. Jones State Park. I was so excited to see a display about lichens, since we'd found several last week and had become interested in them.

One of the things I'd read online about lichens was that they can be used to make dye. The park had a craft table with various things made into dyes - onions, black walnuts, some kind of flower, and lichens!!! How cool is that? I asked how they made it, but the girls at the station were just helping with the craft and hadn't helped make the dyes.

I'd also read online that there were 3 main kinds of lichen. The display actually had samples of all three! FRUTICOSE are wiry and bush like.

FOLIOSE are abover the bark and leaf like.

And CRUSTOSE are part of the bark - crusty.

This is the sample Alexandra had found - it is very much like the foliose samples on their displays.

I think this must be foliose, too - it is not hairy or crustlike and looks more like leaves.

And, I think this must be foliose, too, for the same reasons.

They also had a few posters teaching about lichens. Part of the poster above says: LICHENS are symbiotic relationships between members of up to 3 kingdoms: fungi, algae, and blue-green algae. The dominant partner is fungus.

Fungi are incapable of making their own food. And algae produce food and energy through photosynthesis. The fungus surrounds the algae, protecting it from drying out, and lives off the food it provides.

Lichens do not flower, instead the produce spores.

Lichens are the most dominant and often overlooked vegetation.

This poster has the more interesting facts:

LICHENS are eaten by squirrels and deer.

LICHENS are used by flying squirrels as nest material first and then eaten during winter. (Eat your house - cool!)

LICHENS are used by hummingbirds, wood pewees and blue-gray gnatcatchers for nest material.

LICHENS are inhabited by lichen moth larvae and waterbears.

LICHENS are utilized by American indians as dye stuff for leather and textiles.

LICHENS are anazlyzed by biochemists to isolate disease-fighting compounds.

LICHENS are useful as air pollution indicators.

LICHENS make good soup (some).


live4evermom said...

I love this post. Very informative. What I found interesting is where it says that Lichens are useful as air pollution indicators. I've got to show you what is outside our house and you decide if we have bad pollution. I would never have thought of soup.

Rhonda said...

Lichen soup, ewwww. LOL! I enjoyed this blog. So informative and I always enjoy your photos.

Jennifer said...

That's so fascinating. My beloved biology professor used to say, "Fungi and algae - they are 'lichen' each other." Yes, quite silly, but I always remembered that.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

I needed to be at this class. I have seen so many varieties lately and it bugs me when I can't distinguish them or name them.

Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Anonymous said...

Great information, very interesting, thanks for sharing. I never new just how much lichens are used by humans and animals, but seldom talked or taught about. I especially loved reading about the symbiotic relationships. I can just see God's awesome hand in all of it.

Blessings, Melissa

Robin said...

You've solve a mystery for us. GB and I found some mystery plant on our last nature walk and I had no idea how to identify it. But after reading your post, I googled lichen and found my mystery plant.
It says Florida, but I know that that's the plant we saw.
Great post, Dana!

Makita said...

This is great! On our nature walk last week, we saw several different lichens on one rock. I'm curious about them myself! :D

Kathy said...

Fascinating! We're going to be studying lichen soon as there seem to be several varieties in our woods. I'd love to try making dye. Thank you so much for sharing!

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