Montana Outdoors

July 11, 2017

An oddity

Filed under: Lichens — Tags: — montucky @ 9:26 pm

Today I hiked for a short distance on part of USFS trail 223 starting at the old ferry landing at the fourteen mile bridge on Montana Hwy 135. The start of the trail roughly follows the course of a small unnamed creek and then ascends a hill overlooking the Clark Fork river. It is heavily forested and along the creek there is also quite dense brush. In a tangle of undergrowth and vines along that part of the trail I noticed a patch of bright white barely showing through the foliage just ten feet or so off the trail.

White Crust Lichen

Upon investigating and removing a little dead plant matter I could see a large (1 foot across) patch of pure white which I could only guess to be a white crust lichen, something I’ve never seen before. It is on the end of an old log about two feet in diameter that had fallen and had been sawed off to clear the trail probably several decades ago.

White Crust Lichen

I didn’t disturb it, but I did touch it and it was hard, like plastic. In a close up photo, what appears in the first two pictures as bright spots and really tiny drops of liquid, possibly from condensation during the night (we haven’t had rain in weeks). The even spacing of the drops also made me wonder if perhaps it had exuded from the lichen (if that’s what it is) itself. So far I haven’t been able to find any information on it.

White Crust Lichen

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38 Comments »

  1. That’s quite something! Beautiful design with the drops. Very unique photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 11, 2017 @ 9:35 pm

  2. I have seen many species of lichens, but nothing like this one.

    Like

    Comment by montucky — July 11, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

  3. How beautiful is that. Like looking through a window at bright sunlight sparkling on a magical sea on a summer’s day.

    (I say that as it reminds me of a photo I took recently, as well as one I took down the beach several years ago).

    It’s really quite surreal in the first image.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — July 12, 2017 @ 3:13 am

    • It is really pretty, but I suspect that it might thrive on the dark, damp and protected habitat. I was careful to not make it exposed to the sun.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 7:02 am

  4. Interesting. You never know what you’ll come across.😃

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by heartandsoul974 — July 12, 2017 @ 4:50 am

    • Yes, you never know. After all the time I have spent in the back country over these many years, there are still so many new discoveries.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 7:04 am

      • That’s exciting and even better that you can share it on your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by heartandsoul974 — July 12, 2017 @ 7:28 am

        • Yes. And I’m fascinated that so many people are interested in rather unusual things like this. I’m not alone!

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 4:03 pm

      • I second that thought. Just when I think I might have seen most of what there is to see in my little corner of the woods, something new pops up to change my mind. Glad Ma Nature is keeping me on my toes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Sally — July 13, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

  5. Nature never ceases to amaze!! I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by genevabetweenthecovers — July 12, 2017 @ 6:45 am

    • It does! I love it too. There’s always something new and exciting, and often mysterious.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 7:05 am

      • I agree! That’s why I love hiking/backpacking so much. You never know what to expect, yet you aren’t really seeking anything specific.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by genevabetweenthecovers — July 12, 2017 @ 8:53 am

        • It seems the best to just enjoy seeing what’s there. I seldom go looking for anything specific and when I do I’m always unsuccessful.

          Like

          Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 10:11 am

  6. No wonder that caught your attention. It looks like rhinestone-studded fabric — not something you’d expect to see in the woods. It’s odd, and lovely.

    I’m with you in thinking that the moisture drops might be exudate. They’re so similar in size and spacing, it makes sense. Have you ever used iNaturalist? I keep thinking I need to do that for some of my mysteries, but haven’t yet. There surely are experts there who could help you with an ID. BugGuide is such a useful tool and so easy to use, I really ought to get over my hesitancy and start using iNaturalist, too. I’m stuck here at home until the rain clears out, so maybe I’ll go register right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by shoreacres — July 12, 2017 @ 7:01 am

    • I had not heard of iNaturalist. I will explore that. There always seems to be something else I wonder about, kind of like in the old Columbo scenes… just one more thing…
      This lichen(?) is really rare for this part of the country, or I just haven’t been paying attention.
      The small size of the liquid drops is interesting. If you zoom in on the image, you can see several drops of water just to the left of the lichen that are on the log itself and they are much larger.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 7:16 am

  7. Maybe try sending your photos to FWP or one of the extension folks at MT Ag Live.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Patti — July 12, 2017 @ 7:17 am

    • Yes. I have the number for an extension agent from MSU who is stationed in this area.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 10:09 am

  8. Hmmm, I can surely see why it stopped you for a closer look. Odd and interesting and kind of spell-binding all at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 12, 2017 @ 7:22 am

    • I’ve found that when I see anything at all unusual I’m in for a treat when I investigate it!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 10:13 am

  9. Investigating a mystery keeps us going.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by John Purdy — July 12, 2017 @ 11:08 am

    • It makes things interesting. There is always something new coming up that has to be figured out.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

  10. Wish I could help but when I see something like that in Ohio it’s usually Styrofoam.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — July 12, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

    • There’s that here too, but fortunately confined mostly to the cities and near the highways. The steep trails into the back country require a lot of effort and that seems to limit the amount of trash that is left there(and the trash who would bring it up there and leave it). A lot of the Forest Service signage that is near the main highways show signs of vandalism and/or have bullet holes in them, but I have photos of old Forest Service signs along trails 5 or 6 miles back in the mountains that were put there in the 1930’s and are still pristine except for the natural effects of the weather.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

  11. I think it’s probably a crust fungus rather than a lichen. Crust fungi often change color as they age and this one might be Meruliopsis taxicola. If it is it should eventually turn brownish.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 12, 2017 @ 3:24 pm

    • Thanks. I have no idea how long this has been there, but I was impressed by its size and purity of color. However, when I zoom the closeup to the max, there appears to be a tiny black speck associated with each of the drops of liquid.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 3:48 pm

      • They could be pores in the fungus. There are a few fungi that weep in different colors.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 12, 2017 @ 3:51 pm

        • That would be consistent with what I can see. The location of it also would be more normal for a fungus (in a deeply shaded, damp place buried in vegetation) than for a lichen I would think.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

          • Yes, many or even most lichens like sunshine and can grow in full sun. Most don’t grow on logs unless they were already on the tree when it fell, unless they’re those that prefer rotting wood, like British soldiers .

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 12, 2017 @ 4:09 pm

  12. That’s really Cool! I like seeing your part of the country and details of your area through your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Reed Andariese — July 12, 2017 @ 8:10 pm

    • Thanks Reid. I’m glad that you enjoy seeing some of the interesting things around here. I know it’s a lot different than where you are.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 12, 2017 @ 10:00 pm

  13. I was going to suggest a polypore fungi of some type. One that grew smooth on the wood instead of forming a shelf. But your friends suggesting of Meruliopsis taxicola might be right. Polypores sometimes have a surface that looks like honeycomb if captured with a macro lens and liquid does come from the tiny holes, kind of magical looking in light. Your find is beautiful as can be and quite special. I love seeing your shimmering photos, like a portal into a fairy realm. The mushroom id pages on FB are quite helpful in offering ID’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tammie — July 13, 2017 @ 10:32 am

    • The real surprise to me was that I’ve never seen anything like that before. Perhaps the conditions were never right until this day.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

  14. looking at your photos again, I noticed it looks like older bits of fungi near this shimmering bit. Maybe from last season?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tammie — July 13, 2017 @ 10:34 am

    • I don’t recall the rest of the log’s surface. I became too focused on the main piece.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

  15. It’s so sparkly, no wonder it caught your eye. Always fun to find something new and newsworthy!

    Like

    Comment by Candace — July 14, 2017 @ 1:34 pm


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