Tube Lichen

I’ve been tramping through North American forests for 60 years and I haven’t seen these before. Referring to the little green antlers sticking up in the air.

A bit of literature searching reveals these are quite common. Called Cladonia Ochrochlora , a common fruticose lichen. Cladonia, pronounced Clad-own-ee-ah, is a cool enough word in its own right, but describing it as “fruiticose” makes it even cooler. Lichens, as you may or may not know, are any of numerous complex plantlike organisms made up of an alga or a cyanobacterium and a fungus growing in symbiotic association. That means they both benefit by being together. A lot of humans spend their entire lives searching for a similar relationship with varying degrees of success. Lichens, however, have the symbiosis thing all figured out and it’s working for them in a big way. They grow everywhere. There are over 18,000 species of lichen worldwide.The study of lichens is called, predictably, lichenology. To have some fun with people if you’re asked what you do for a living say: “Like”, pause, “Eeeenology”. Do it with a big smile. You’ll get a blank stare that lasts a full second or two.


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