Montana Outdoors

February 9, 2018

Pixi-Cups

Filed under: Lichens — Tags: — montucky @ 12:50 pm

Mixed in among the buttercups yesterday there were a few (just a few) Pixie-cup lichens in their fruiting stage.

Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie Cup Lichen

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February 6, 2018

Rhizoplaca & Candelariella?

Filed under: Lichens — Tags: , , — montucky @ 11:10 pm

Along an old road on which I walk very often there are remnants of a rock wall, probably built by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930’s when the road was a US highway through northwest Montana leading to Idaho and on to Washington state (US 10A). Over the years the rocks in the wall have become the homes of many species of lichens and add bright splashes of color, very welcome in winter.

One of the aspects of lichens that makes them largely ignored is that many are so small that their details can hardly be seen by the unaided eye even though a large number of them growing together may provide a pleasant color in their surroundings.

I was considering that today when I passed this section of the wall which contained a rock which is about a half foot tall and a foot wide, a large section of which is colored gold by a lichen colony.

Rock wall, circa 1930

Here is a closer look at that rock and you can more easily see a small circle of another species of lichen in the lower left.

Candelariella rosulans

An even closer look in which you can begin to see the individual lichens in the circle.

Lichen-covered rock

And a close-up of the colony in the circle (which I believe to be Rhizoplaca melanophthalma lichens).

Lichens ~ Rhizoplaca melanophthalma?

And finally a close-up of some of the lichens in the gold colored section (which I believe are Candelariella rosulans).

Lichens ~ Candelariella rosulans?

While lichens are not true “species” in the conventional meaning of the word because each lichen is a composite of a fungus and an alga, they are categorized similarly and I’ve read that there are up to 25,000 “species” or “mutualisms” of them worldwide. It’s understandable but a little sad that most of them are either overlooked or ignored.

January 24, 2018

Family portraits

Filed under: Lichens, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 8:18 pm

On a walk today I noticed some Pixie-cup lichens that were making their homes on a small stack of rocks. They were growing in small groups spread well apart and reminded me of families that might have gathered to have family portraits taken.

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

Pixie-cup lichen

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

February 11, 2016

First wildflower of 2016

Every year about this time the first wildflowers in this part of western Montana begin to bloom, months ahead of the rest. They are Sagebrush Buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus) and on a thin ridge that juts out from some cliffs a dozen miles upriver the first of blossom opened today. There was just one today, but in a few sunny days there will be many more. For whatever reason their success strategy tells them to open so early, it works.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

The tiny cup lichen are also still doing well and displaying their bright red fruit.

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

January 31, 2016

Decorated glass

Either I have not seen lichens growing on glass before or just not noticed them, but today an old bottle caught my eye. It not only is nicely decorated with lichen, but there are two different kinds of them on it. I wonder if perhaps there may be a little greenhouse heating effect inside the bottle, making the glass a little warmer than the surrounding air because the lichens seem to be extraordinarily robust. (The decorated bottle was so pretty that I wanted to take it home, but I certainly couldn’t destroy their little world.)

lichen on bottle

lichen on bottle

lichen on bottle

Nearby there frost crystals on some barberry leaves, but I saw no frost on the bottle.

frost crystal

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