'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Lichen grows on a column outside a 'Grecian Temple' - a folly, in the grounds of the grand English Palladian mansion "Stourhead".

Lichens are tolerant of a wide range of ecological conditions, but, perhaps surprisingly, very sensitive to atmospheric pollution.  Lichens are actually a fungi that has evolved to live symbiotically with a partner that photosynthesises.  Perhaps an algae or a bacterium, and sometimes both.  This partnership is very delicate, and easily broken and so lichens are sometimes used by scientists as biomonitors of environmental health.   And as bioindicators of environmental change.
So, where you see lichen growing well, you can be pleased that the air is very clean.

I like the surprising colours and shapes, and the crinkled textures.  They please me that they tenaciously cling on in such dry, hot and bright places.  They seem to say to me "Don't give up!  Look what you can achieve when you persist!"


  1. What an absolutely lovely way of looking at lichen.
    "They seem to say to me 'Don't give up! Look what you can achieve when you persist!' - I really love that thought. And you are right it is beautiful.
    My two children are obsessed with moss at the moment. they think it is the most magical thing!

  2. Truly unexpected beauty, nothing like mother nature and your keen eye to provide such purposeful insight where others would miss it.

  3. I've never seen anything like that before.

  4. Sometimes I feel like lichen myself.

  5. Thank you Tara and Sis.
    Tony, perhaps your air is not very clean...?
    YP. Awww. All crinkly and a surprising shape you mean?

  6. So good to read someone being positive and seeing things the way I do - which naturally is the correct way ;)

  7. I love lichen. One of my earliest blog posts was photos of some lichen and the caption "What's Not to Lichen?" (I like really bad puns too).

  8. Fantastic. I'm looking at the colors and shapes and they are inspiring me for a project I'm working on. And your comments about the lichen are great, inspirational as well.