It's lovely stuff, lichen, if you stop to look at it:
Lobaria scrobiculata. Photo by
And I think we should.
Lichen (You say it LIKE-n in most places, though in Britain you can say it LITCHn if you like) is said to cover six per cent of the land surface of the earth. You find it on walls, stone, trees...all over the place:
Wolf lichen, photo by
Common orange lichen, photo by
crustose lichen, photo by roantrum
So what exactly is a lichen? Trevor Goward (an expert) said that lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture. The fungus part of a lichen can be farming either cyanobacteria or algae.
Lichens don't have roots, they can be thousands of years old, and they can make food out of the air by photosynthesis. There are about 20,000 kinds to spot. Some reproduce sexually and some don't, but even the ones which don't are continuing to evolve into nee species.
How many centimetres from your front door do you have to go before you spot one?
Spot the Frippet: lichen. This word comes almost unchanged from the Greek leichen, which originally meant something like which eats round itself, and before that probably from leikhein, which means, oddly, to lick.