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John Wells - Lichens and Mosses

18 Feb 2023

Have you noticed strange colours on trees and lamp posts?

It was great to see so many come to Grove Farm on Saturday for a fascinating nature walk with John Wells exploring moss and lichens. Small and easily overlooked, we enjoyed looking closely and seeing the intricate details of these organisms. I learnt for the first time what a lichen actually is - it isn't a plant, it is a symbiosis between fungi and algae! Also that there are pollution loving lichen as well as those which are indicators of clean air. Lichens such as golden shield lichen (Xanthoria parietina) which can live in areas with high levels of nitrogen such as those found next to the sides of roads and hence why you may see trees and lamposts covered in it.

ramalina farinacea

We also learnt that mosses are some of the oldest plants, having appeared over 450 million years ago (flowers are only 150 million years old) and have survived massive changes in climate. Mosses don’t flower and they reproduce via spores (which are 1 cell organisms). They are also important microhabitats, providing homes to many different tiny creatures.

amblystegium serpens

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