Month: February 2011
I, like many people, had never thought too much about the curious, plant-like, tree-dwelling lichens that are prolific throughout the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to an episode of Oregon Field Guide (thanks Public Broadcasting!), I have a new appreciation for these bizarre flora, which are abundant on Forest Glen Road.
Here is what Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast has to say about lichens:
Lichens are the banners of the fungal kingdom. Think of them as fungi that have discovered agriculture. Instead of invading or scavenging for a living like other fungi – moulds, mildews, mushrooms – lichen fungi cultivate algae within themselves. Algae are photosynthesizers, and so can supply the fungus with carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins. In return, the fungus appears to provide the alga with protection from the elements.
Apparently, they can also tell you a great deal about local air quality, as described in the Field Guide video. Below are some of the unfortunate lichens along Forest Glen Road whose tree branch habitats fell to the ground. Also below is the OPB story featuring lichens.