With the trees now bear of leaves it seemed a good time to try and become familiar with some of the local tree lichens. Lichens are fungi that live with an algae or cyanobacteria. The later two can make their own food from sunlight, but the fungus feeds on organic dead matter. In biology, the relationship is called a symbiosis. Lichens can live a long time and some are particularly sensitive to air pollution and so are good indicators of a healthy environment.
I am not great on my lichen identification skills, but with my ‘Lichens of Ireland’ guide I hope to improve. This guide deals with just 250 out of the 1,165 lichen species found on the Island. It is estimated that lichens cover 8% of worlds surface, so I really should get to know them better.
Remember I’m learning but I think the one above is Usnea subfloridana. It was growing on some willow branches. I went out again today to get another photograph as this one wasn’t as sharp as I hoped and the weather was brighter, but when I looked at today’s photograph I realised I had taken a different one.
The one above I think is Evernia prunastri is not as feathery as the first one, and it was growing on a birch branch. Often the branches have two or three species growing on close proximity. A good website for Irish lichens is http://www.lichens.ie/