Monday, March 20, 2017

Lichen it or not....

Dear Naturalists,

I've been meaning to talk you about Ramalina menziesii.  It's the California State Lichen now, and it's known more commonly as Spanish Moss or Lace Lichen.  It's a lovely gray green one that drapes from tree branches, looking like tattered curtains. 

Lichen is not a plant, but a peculiar and charming combination of algae and fungi; not exactly just two things living symbiotically together, but two organisms that have become one.  R. menziesii is sensitive to atmospheric pollution, and it can reproduce by spores (sexually) and asexually, when broken fragments become a new organism.  Birds use a lot of it in their nests, I wonder if those pieces become a new lichen, too?

If you are keen to know more about Spanish Moss, look here, and if you hanker to join the fans of California lichens, join the Society.