I hope you are showering yourselves with love and appreciation today!
To me this particular day is a reminder that not just once a year you should treat yourself (and if applicable your special someone) to something nice. Look, even these trees are feeling a blush coming on!
No, that’s not literally a flora blush (though I like to think of it that way) that’s actually red lichen. Let’s have a talk about relationships.
Let’s start of with “what is lichen?” Lichen is a combination of algae and fungus – and can sometimes also contain the third organism cyanobacteria. The lichen grows best on trees in a cool, partially sunny, and moist environment. They face difficulty growing in polluted environments and are less likely to be seen in city-side foliage.
Different types of lichen were also used to produce dye either by boiling them in water or fermenting them in ammonia (urine tradtionally). These dyes were used differently across the world historically: yellow in North America, purple in Europe, and brown with red on Scottish tartans. If you’re anything like me you’ll be tilting your head and saying, “OH” because the preferences of certain historical styles and per royalty will suddenly make much more sense.
Fungus grows on the tree and collects moisture. This feeds the algae which photosynthesizes energy from the sun which in turn feeds the fungus making theirs a mutually symbiotic relationship. This pair of thallus’ attach to the tree bark via rhizines (hair-like filaments) and do not harm the tree, making their and the tree’s relationship one of commensalism.
Personally I am used to seeing green lichen, so what makes the lichen pictured above red? Based on the research I have done the red and white lichen pictured above is a crutose lichen, which means it rows radiating from the center with the newest growth on the edges. As to which lichen specifically this is, I am not entirely sure, though I can tell you that lichen is typically named after its fungus section.
Some people think the lichen is unsightly and can purge it if they wish with several different methods, including a soap solution, copper-sulfate, and lime sulfur (which could also damage the tree if applied to the roots).
If you want to learn more, please feel free to explore any of the linked text above.
So, we’ve covered relationships, especially mutually beneficial ones, and red. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and remember, much love~
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