Lichen Safari – Parmelina Pastillifera

In the middle of Winter, it can often be hard to spot much wildlife when you go for a ramble, and if you’re anything like me you’ll be missing all the lovely native wildflowers that were out earlier in the year.

However, I’ve recently come across an antidote to the natural history ID Winter blues – Lichen Safaris!

Old gates and fence posts are often cracking spots and can have many different species forming a fascinating little lichen forest. Some lichen also serve as indicator species for the air quality in the area, or as markers for particular types of habitat.

This life ring was covered in Parmelina pastillifera. It’s a very common lichen in the South West, both in rural and urban environments, so it’s a good one to learn when you’re getting started.

It generally grows in nutrient rich environments, typically on wood or rock, and often favours sunnier, more exposed spots than other lichen, as is the case for this life buoy.

Although none are visible in these picture, the reproductive structures of this lichen, called isidia, can clearly be seen as small black-ish dots when they are present.

So next time you’re out on a cold Winter’s ramble, why not go on a lichen safari yourself! Tip – it’s even more fun if you bring a hand lens!

By Chris Eyles, Senior Warden for Exmoor

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