Lichens are fascinating but often overlooked. They’re important in many ecosystems including our irreplaceable ancient woodlands, valued highly by the Woodland Trust.

The British Lichen Society promotes the study of this everyday, often beautiful group of symbiotic organisms. You can admire photos and use them in the difficult task of lichen identification.

Why care about lichens? For many reasons, including their value as indicators of air quality. Because they’re so responsive to air quality, lichens provide a classic example of natural selection on the land. On tree trunks, in fact.

Lichens can indicate stress in garden plants. But I say, these are beautiful organisms. If your trees and shrubs are growing well, enjoy them!

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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10 Responses to Lichens

  1. petrel41 says:

    According to recent research, lichens are said to be able to survive on Mars:

  2. I dont think you will be surprised to find out I think lichens are awesome (reading a load about them now for my bachelor thingy), and they will definitely be the subject of several posts in the future from my end 🙂

    • argylesock says:

      Oh good, I’ll read with interest. They’re one of the phyla I’ve never got good at. Along with… er… {mumbles} quite a lot of branches that I hope to read about in your Tree of Life series.

      With lichens, I just think they’re gorgeous. Seeing lichen-encrusted trees in the upland woods of North Wales was a clarion cry to me: do science on the land..

      • I actually did my GCSE biology coursework on whether the thing about lichen growing on a particular side of the trees is still true in a Welsh valley with rain coming in from a different side. (mostly I did it so I could spend most of the term slacking off in the forest, but it was probably a sign that I should do environmental biology, so my teacher was right!)

  3. I was at school in Pontardawe, where the valley runs North-East to South-West, and in Pontardawe, the hill is on the NE, so the SW is open to the elements. My findings were that most of the lichen grew on the open side of the valley, as the north facing side of the trees were sheltered from the rain by the hill. As it was a GCSE project, I never got to go and check the other side of the valley to see if the same thing happened that side.

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