British soldiers lichen, Oconee County
Lichens are a combination of algae and fungi, the classic example of mutualistic symbiosis. The algae can carry on photosynthesis, and make food. The fungus can anchor itself most anywhere. This combination grows on bricks, rocks, roofs, above the tree line, in the Arctic, and in other places where other plants won't grow. This specimen was growing on a fallen log in a forest in the Village Creek area of Oconee County, South Carolina. The height of the spike on the right was probably a little less than an inch/about 2 cm.
For more on lichens in general, see here. The red-tipped lichen, Cladonia cristatella, is called British soldiers lichen. Because of the color, and because this lichen is fairly common in South Carolina, and also in Wisconsin, where I grew up, it's my favorite lichen. The red part of British soldiers is where the fungus is reproducing, as I understand such things. Lichens are a combination of two plants, which can reproduce separately. A lichen, as such, usually "reproduces" by having a piece containing both of them break off. A wild fungus can also capture the appropriate alga and start a new lichen.
Isn't God a great artist?
Even more spectacular at the larger sizes.
Would you like to comment?
Guest Passes let you share your photos that aren't public. Anyone can see your public photos anytime, whether they're a Flickr member or not. But! If you want to share photos marked as friends, family or private, use a Guest Pass. If you're sharing photos from a set, you can create a Guest Pass that includes any of your photos marked as friends, family, or private. If you're sharing your entire photostream, you can create a Guest Pass that includes photos marked as friends or family (but not your private photos). Learn more about Guest Passes![?]
This photo also belongs to:
Some rights reserved Anyone can see this photo