Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Winter's Beauty


The sap is rising, days grow longer, bulbs busily thrust themselves through the earth, some even have flowers. Trees stand unadorned, silhouetted in their skeletal nakedness against Winter's skies. They too await Spring's arrival, their bare limbs show signs of buds but throughout the year many play host to some of Mother Nature's frilly, lacy, little jewels.
Lichens are a partnership between members of two different kingdoms that live together in a special, mutually beneficial relationship - a symbiosis
Each lichen is made up of a fungus and an algae: the body of the lichen is built up by a tough fungal hyphae, and the algae lives inside that framework 

The fungus protects the algae from the harsh world outside, and provides it with water and mineral nutrients. The algae makes its own food by photosynthesis, then leaks some of this food, which in turn is absorbed by the fungus as it cannot make it's own food
Their partnership is so tough and self-reliant that lichens can grow on rocks in the desert where nothing else survives. When it is too dry, too hot, or too cold, lichens go into a state of suspended animation until conditions improve. Because the algae make up only 5% of each lichen, and are out of action for much of the time, lichens grow very slowly - only a few millimetres per year. They make up for this by living for centuries, or in some cases, millennia 


Lichens have one serious weakness - they must absorb their mineral nutrients from the rain. So if the air is polluted with sulphur dioxide, this dissolves in the rain and is absorbed by the lichens which often die as a result - lichens are a predictor of good air quality.
All of these lichen photos were taken in our garden - the row of skyline trees was taken on Exmoor 

54 comments:

  1. What a fabulous post. Glad to have learnt something new today. Beautiful photos. Enjoy your day. B x

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment - delighted that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, Once again you have surpassed yourself with your remarkable photography. I enjoy contemplating lichens, liverworts, and the like, the part of nature which reveals itself once we get past the more visible trees and flowers.

    Your point about their environmental sensitivity is well taken. Paying attention to nature reveals gradual changes that let us know when things are not right. Looking at your photographs, I would not want the beauty and intrigue of lichens to go away.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I agree that these little organisms are intriguing, and we ignore them at our peril - I would like to know more about them as they have so many variations in both their form and colour.

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  3. Your lichens are very pretty with dainty little shoots and branches. Remind me a little of coral. You must have good air in your part of the world, as they look very healthy.

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    1. I hope you are right about the air quality Betty - I have several neighbours up here who are well into their 90s so perhaps it is.

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  4. I've always had a bit of a liking for lichens.

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  5. Hi Rosemary, you got some fascinating shots of the lichens. Thanks for providing the info about them, I always assumed they were "just regular plants" before I read your post.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thank you Christina - their life cycle is very interesting to me.

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  6. Wonderful photos and information as always.

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  7. Wow - I learned a lot, thank you Rosemary (and I pride myself to know a lot on plants). And the photos: great!

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    1. I love lichens Britta and find their forms fascinating

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  8. Nice post and info. The last photo could easily be an art installation in a gallery. Far better than some of the rubbish masquerading as such I've encountered recently on my travels.

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    1. I got that last photo by holding a piece of black paper behind the lichen Bob - thank you for your kind comment

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  9. it's all very beautiful really. everything has a purpose.

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    1. The lifecycle of some organisms is really interesting.

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  10. I love the varied architecture of lichens. Many of your beautiful lichens are found here, as well. I didn't know that they were made of both fungi and algae. How educational blogging can be!

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    1. I wish that I knew more about the different varieties - they are interesting little organisms.

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  11. Beautiful pictures of lichens...

    Please visit: http://from-a-girls-mind.blogspot.com

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  12. Your photo of the line of trees is fantastic Rosemary - it would be beautiful framed on the wall - but perhaps you have already done so :)
    Your garden must be beautiful, and the lichens are like ornaments, and so special. I had no idea they grew so slowly, so interesting, and now I wonder why I never see any of them here. Perhaps it is too hot; our air is quite clean. A lovely post.

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    1. That is kind of you to say Patricia - I actually don't have any of my photos framed. May be lichens grow on rocks in Australia like they do in deserts. When they grow on rocks they tend to be completely flat and look more like a marking on the rocks - often an ochre colour.

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  13. How interesting Mother Nature can be. I like how you see the beauty in all things..

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  14. There are lots of lichens on the trees around me so I'm happy to find out that my air is pure.

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  15. Dear Rosemary, What is it about trees growing in a row by what looks like an old highway, that appeals to me so much. I love that first photograph.
    I have used lichen in flower arrangements and have always marveled at how long lasting they are.
    Your close-up shots are wonderful. I agree with others, your photos should be published.

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    1. That was a colour photo that I took a couple of years ago Gina and turned it into black and white. It is actually high up on the moors in Devon and is quite remote.
      You are very generous with your comments Gina but I think that our little cameras do us both proud.

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  16. Olá meu nome é Glória e eu sou do Brasil.
    Suas fotos são magníficas. Gosto dos seus olhares.
    Um abraço.

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    1. Obrigado por visitar e pelo seu tipo de comentário

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  17. Fascinating and beautiful in equal measure! Your photos are, as always, amazing!

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    1. Thet are really interesting Amy and thank you for your kind comment

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  18. Talking about pollution.... I never saw a lichen in Milan :-) Great post !

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    1. You don't tend to see them so much in cities Jane - all of the traffic probably does not help

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  19. How delightful and informative Rosemary!
    Hope you are well...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Are you on Instagram??? Look me up!!

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    2. Thanks very much Linda - nice to see you here - I am not on Instagram as I only have a simple mobile phone - are you heading off down South yet?

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  20. thank you! and gorgeous photographs...

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    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment Monica - do please call again.

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  21. And here I see them, though not in the place where I live. I like to look at and admire your photos. Regards.

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    1. Thank you Giga - I am so pleased that you enjoyed looking at the photos.

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  22. Beautiful winter photos, but your winter is a little bit different winter as we have here in Finland.

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    1. Yes, we have certainly missed out on the snow so far this year.

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  23. One word! WOW...
    Love from Titti

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  24. Dear Rosemary,

    Your photographs are gorgeous and we have to marvel at nature and all she has to offer.
    I always love seeing the garden in winter, has a magical touch.
    Have a lovely new week
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. There are always little compensations during our winter months if we look - thank you for your visit Carolyn.

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  25. The photos are fantastic, another world of beauty.

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    1. Thank you for your generous comment Steve, please do call again.

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  26. I love the green gray shades of lichens - these are beautiful. My own viewed favorites were on Campbell Island in New
    Zealand's sub-Antarctic Islands - like yours, they were breathtaking, probably due to so much rain and moisture in that
    extremely remote part of the world. I can vouch for the air quality there - refreshing to say the least!

    Thanks for all the interesting lichen facts Rosemary - you are the best.
    Hugs - Mary

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    1. I can imagine that the area of New Zealand you mentioned Mary would have wonderful lichens growing there - I love their lacey interesting shapes and soft colours. You can see some ochre coloured ones growing on my garden walls in the header too - take care♡

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  27. What incredible photos, Rosemary. They really are like jewels!

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