Almost 20 inches of snow kept this person home, doing a nature hike through her picture files. I definitely have no shortage of files.
Mosses and lichens grow high on the rocky hills on Shawnee National Forest land south of my rural property. That’s where these pictures came from.
The following lichens are in a group called fruticose lichens. They are distinguished by miniature branched stalks or by being somewhat bushy.
Meet British Soldiers lichen,
also called red cap.
They also go by the name scientific name Cladonia cristatella. The red cap is the fruiting body of the lichen.
Brown cap ( Cladonia capitata) resembles the red cap. They’re much less common here. Their stalks were less than 1/2 inch tall.
These pixie cups are so cute. I don’t know enough about them to determine which species of Cladonia they are.
This last fruticose lichen is called reindeer moss. Obviously, we don’t have reindeer in southern Illinois to eat it. I’m unable to find it’s scientific name.
Reindeer moss can grow into large clumps and be quite common. They’re brittle when dry, and soft and cushy when damp.
Lichens are actually two plants — a fungus and algae – growing together in a symbiotic relationship. The fungus provides the algae a place to live, and the algae provides food for the lichen.
Obviously, we don't have any reindeer in southern Illinois to eat this reindeer moss
The sun shone through a clear blue sky with no clouds. The temperature was in the upper 40′s, with a light wind from the west. Buffy and I followed an old tractor road down into a ravine on the Shawnee National Forest land next to my property. The ravine was deep, with steep sides narrowing down to the creek. The creek had a steady flowing sound from the recent heavy rains.
Yesterday, we had another strong line of storms with tornadoes headed our way. It began to weaken when was only 15 minutes from us. That was a might much to go through after the tornado that hit Harrisburg, Illinois 3 days ago.
Today felt so calm, so peaceful, like the storms had done a deep cleanse of the area.
We crossed the creek and headed up the east slope. The sun was just right to highlight the greens of the large patches of moss and the grayish-green of the lichens. The picture (above) is a small patch of reindeer moss. The one below shows larger clumps of it 12 and more inches long.
Reindeer moss (Cladina subtenuis) isn’t a moss, it’s a lichen. It grows in small mats or rounded clumps. It’s spongy during wet times, and becomes dry and brittle during dry weather.
Lichens are actually 2 species living together in a symbiotic relationship – a fungus and an alga. Symbiotic means each depends on the other for survival. The fungus is the body of the lichens, and surrounds the green alga. The alga supplies nutrients for the fungus, which has no chlorophyll and can’t photosynthesize its own food. The fungus provides a “house” for the alga.
Buffy and I walked around a while longer, and then took our time going back to the truck. I too felt cleansed by this day and by our slow meandering hike; I felt so relaxed, so relieved, taking deep breaths … which I’m sure had nothing to do with the steepness of the slope.