I went out for a walk around the block with my FlipView digital microscope, looking for inspiration. After playing with the video function and filming some pollinators I decided to turn my sights onto the tree in my front yard.
It’s a maple tree and it has these little notches in the bark that look like freckles. Then I noticed the lichen. I’ve always been fascinated by lichen, ever since I volunteered at the Archbold Biological Station. Lichen is a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae. Here’s a little saying to help you remember it:
Allie Algae and Freddie Fungus fell in love, but now their marriage is on the rocks.
** 7/21/2106 Totally New Science Update: Yeast has been revealed as the third partner in the lichen symbiosis! New research just came out. So less like a marriage than a triumvirate. (Or maybe like a marriage, whatever floats your boat.)
Lichen can present in a dizzying array of forms and colors. I’ve even seen hot pink lichen in southern Florida at Archbold and it was one of those moments that turns your world upside down for a moment. On the maple tree by my house I found a few different kinds. People drove by and looked at me strangely as I used my little microscope, but I’m a certified and professional bugdork- so I am used to people thinking I’m weird.
This lichen looks like chalky antler horns. I love the dark outline that looks like it’s charred and burned.
This lichen was on the other side of the tree and the different colors of green were stunning!
I was drawn to the tiny little circular shapes in this picture. There was something really fun about my little ‘curiosity exercise.’ I’ve been snorkeling and scuba diving a few times and love the experience. My lichen exploration reminded me of snorkeling, where all the shapes were foreign. The lichen reminded me of a tiny coral garden.