Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lichens at Large

Lichen growth on old Prunus tree February 2011

The annual appearance of a particularly spectacular lichen that grows at the base of one of the flowering prunus trees growing on our pavement (directly adjacent to our driveway and, therefore, visible to us upon entering or leaving our property), is always a delightful discovery.  We view its emergence with particular excitement, as it always seems to appear as if out of nowhere.  Herewith I present February 2011's offering...it's roughly the size of a rugby ball! 
To continue this post, please click the Read More button below....
Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic association of a fungus with a photosynthesising partner, frequently a cyanobacterial alga.
Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on earth, ranging from the icy arctic to the blistering heat of deserts.

Lichens are abundant as epiphytes found in both temporal and rain forests, growing on both the leaves and branches of trees.

Lichens also occur on bare rock and open soil surfaces.

Lichens are widespread and many may be long-lived.

Other lichens are vulnerable to environmental disturbances making them particularly useful as bio-indicators in tracking the effects of both air pollution and ozone depletion.
They have been used in the manufacture of perfumes, dyes and traditional medications.

Some lichens have the appearance of leaves, others appear crusty and still others may adopt shrubby or even gelatinous forms. These truly fascinating organisms are (sadly) often overlooked by even the most enthusiastic of gardeners!

May I now challenge you to discover the wide variety you might well have growing in your own backyards!

And now...

To update any regular readers of Driftwood Ramblings who might have been wondering why my posts have become so spaced of late...

I am still puppy-sitting and have been doing so in earnest this past week, trying to get our daughter's 15 week old puppy, Romeo fully house-trained.  He's getting the idea, but as we continue to have the occasional mishap, I need to remain alert and ensure I'm quicker at nabbing him than he is at evacuating.  Hence, for now at least, my life is not quite my own.  I'm at the beck and call of this adorable and adoring little pup!  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since our daughter adopted him from the Animal Rescue Shelter and he's doing remarkably well.
You will know of the initial reluctance we had from our 11 month old, German Shepherd pup, Toby, to accept Romeo into 'the pack'.  I'm happy to report back that since I last posted on this topic, there has been considerable improvement in how they relate to each other.  It's still not safe enough, however, to leave them together unsupervised, largely due to the size difference. We therefore need to be vigilant, so Romeo does not get hurt in the rough-and-tumble.

Give us a few more weeks, though, and I'm hoping we'll have it all running 'smooth as clockwork!' Meantime, my posts will of necessity, remain largely erratic.


  1. I've never seen a lichen like that, it's huge! We do have lichen on our big Japanese Maple and I do remember reading that it was a good sign to see it growing because it meant there wasn't a lot of air pollution.
    Glad things are going better with the puppy. House training is no fun, I remember doing it with Gracie, I felt like I followed her around constantly watching to see if she was about to squat. The poor thing would start to sit sometimes and I'd pick her up and run to the door only to realize she just wanted to relax :)

  2. Catherine, I had to laugh out loud at your description of following Gracie around suspiciously - I do the same!

  3. Wow,,,,i have never seen a lichen. I live in a appartement without a garden, but when i'm at my parents house i will look for a lichen....maybe i will find one....
    Nice to hear that the puppy is doing so well. I would like to haave a puppy of my own onde day. For now i have to work to much too take care of a puppy.....
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures.
    Untill mext time.

    Greetings Bianca

  4. Hello...what a amazing pictures !!...have a nice evening darling...and thanks for always be so kind to leave a comment on my blog !! you are so kind ! love Ria...

  5. That lichen is huge! I have never seen anything like it. The ones we have around here tend to be flat growing, often mustard coloured circular patterns. At some point, I'll try to remember to take a photo and post it.

    Good news about Toby by the way :)

  6. I have seen a few, but nothing as beautiful and detailed as these! I find everything in nature wondrous and beautiful. My favorite channels on TV are the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Although, I am starting to learn just as much from you!

    Toby says hello. He is at the Vets. today getting his you know whats removed! I bet it will be a long time before he goes there again, willingly. kt

  7. What a spectacular organism that lichen is. Is it different from an ordinary fungus? House-training a puppy sounds like hard work!

  8. I really appreciated viewing the stunning photos you provided Desiree. Also, to learn a bit about lichens - which, I must admit, I've always just taken for granted.
    Yours is a thing of beauty. Its construction being quite complex.

    Sounds like you've got quite a puppy handful in your household at the moment. It will, no doubt, be worth all the trouble you're going to.

    All the best and thank you for fitting in a great post :D

  9. Hi Desiree, your photos of the lichen are STUNNING! And you gave me more insight into this plant (?) fungi. I wondered where you were and am glad that you're just busy. That is a real labour of love, puppy sitting and housetraining him. I did the same with my Rottweiler puppy many years ago and he never let us down. He lived and slept indoors and was a realy gentleman in this regard, right to his end. Do you also praise the little guy when he does the right thing outdoors? Thanks for always visiting my blog and commenting. Bless you, Jo

  10. The lichen is amazing! And to be able to see it for February a delight!


  11. Gorgeous photos Desiree, you really make South Africa look like an enticing destination for tourists. The South African Tourism Board should get you on their payroll ASAP!

  12. That is an enormous lichen. We had some huge ones in France but that is even bigger.
    I wanted to write a lot today to thank you so much for all your great comments but I have to rush off again. I shall come back tomorrow but in the meantime I will leave you with a little message that you are my 'blog of the week' and I shall be shouting out about you and your posts on twitter and facebook starting tomorrow.
    Night night Desiree and thank you for being such a great blogging friend.

  13. Oh, Carol, I am indeed most flattered!
    Thank you very much :)

  14. It's really fabulous... love the colors and textures implied in the shape. Of course I have no idea how big a rugby ball is... hah

  15. Wow!!..Gorgeousness!!....I love that whole lichen realm..it is sooo magical..fabulous photo too..yay you made my day Desiree..beautiful!

    and thank you for your lovely visit and sweet words! hugs ..you are a shining star!

  16. I might be mistaken, but I do believe that I have never seen anything like that before! Your photos surely capture every detail. I felt like I was in Science class reading this post..that's a compliment!
    Regarding Toby and Romeo, I am very glad to hear that they are getting along better. I too had to laugh out loud at Catherine's post about Gracie..so funny! I know you feel bad for not posting much, but I just have to say that I always look forward to them. Whenever you show up in my Google Reader I always stop what I'm doing to read your blog.
    I also wanted to say thanks for commenting on my blog. I greatly appreciate it!!

  17. Hi Desiree,

    I'm here from Facing 50, and so glad to have found you. That lichen is incredible - the biggest I've ever seen. When we hike I often stop and make my hubby appreciate the colors and shapes of our lichens with me.

  18. Just checking in to see how my blog of the week is? I also needed a quick SA fix...ahhhhh! That's better. :)

  19. Hi Carol!

    Great to see you today - I'm quite sure that it's entirely thanks to you I have 3 new followers as of yesterday :)

    Hope I don't let you down!!!


    Des xo

  20. what a perfect title!!
    (i LOVE fungi & lichen...too!)

    but obviously your lichen is much bigger than my lichen!! ha!!

    thanks for the awesome pictures!! :]


I would love to hear from you!