Magical lichen

British soldiers lichen (Cladonia cristatella)

Found this flowing lichen today on a walk in the Ellan valley growing with the moss on the moor. I was amazed I’ve never caught them in flower before, beautiful!

Moss by Anna Wrigley
I had never seen the colour green
until the Long Mynd moss
lay at my feet in a cold rain,
burning; as if some temperamental goddess had turned out her jewel-box
here, on this stubbled heath.

The real magic
I still believe in magic, never more than when I’m walking in ancient woodland, the spell cast over me in all beautiful nature’s detail.

A potent antibiotic, it was used dry and powdered and applied to an open wound. Modern science is discovering lichen to be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Now that’s true magic!

Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. Visit their website.

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)
“Lichens growing on trees and shrubs are mainly grey to green in colour. Algae, lichens and moss are found in damp places, as not only do they need moisture for growth but also reproduction. Lichens are particularly adaptable as they can exist where nutrients, and sometimes water, are scarce. However, they grow only very slowly so, unlike moss and algae, are slow to colonise. Lichens prefer areas with clean air, so are more common in rural districts”.

With thanks to RHS. View source.

The Woodland Trust
“Ancient woodland is land that has been continually wooded for a very long time.

Because of this, ancient woods are particularly important for lichen as they provide an undisturbed environment where lichen can thrive. Lichens need this as they take a long time to develop, growing only 1-2mm a year.

Some species of lichen require alkaline conditions and are only found growing on old bark. Bark can become more alkaline with age, so species such as ash – which has a relatively high pH (alkalinity) of bark – are home to a lot of species. In fact, some 536 lichen species are associated with ash!

All of this really underlines how crucial a single ancient tree can be for our varied lichen species.”

With thanks to The Woodland Trust. View source.

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