A Liking for Lichens: Finland

A lichen is not a single organism, but rather it is a combination of two organisms which live together intimately. Most of the lichen is composed of filaments of a fungus, but living among the filaments are algal cells, usually from a green alga or a cyanobacteriuim.  The relationship between these two organisms, in which both benefit from the cooperation and neither is adversely affected, is called commensalism.

In many cases the fungus and the alga which together make the lichen may each be found living in nature without its partner, but many other lichens include a fungus which cannot survive on its own because it has become dependent on its algal partner for its survival.  In all cases though, the appearance of the fungus in the lichen is quite different from its morphology when it is a separately growing individual.

I can’t say when my fascination with lichens began.  It was so long ago that I cannot remember any particular event that awakened my interest; however, ever since my love of photography started, with a Kodak Brownie when I was eight or so, they have been one of the many natural subjects to which I have been drawn.  In this new series, I’d like to present some of the lichens whose acquaintances I have made during my travels.  There are a few dozen that I have chosen to include, so I’ll try breaking them down into groups according to where I found them.  I’ve been paying a lot of attention to New Zealand recently, so I’ll save my lichenous treasures from there for future posts.  For now, for a change, I believe I’ll start with several that I found in Finland.

(Note:  Some of the information on lichens in my first two paragraphs was paraphrased from the website of the University of California at Berkeley, from a page entitled “Introduction to Lichens—an alliance between kingdoms.”)

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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11 Responses to A Liking for Lichens: Finland

  1. hellenjc says:

    Lichens are some of my favourite things and you have captured them beautifully.. Gorgeous

  2. Sometimes I wish I could live in environments like this…not as a 5’6″ person, but as a .5″ person. I would love to explore these lichen forests, though I probably would not fare well with the insects I’m sure I would encounter…that would be rather frightening at that height!

    • krikitarts says:

      I love your idea of the lichen forests! I plan to do a series of ultra-macros in the north woods this summer and will remember your mentioning it. It should be doubly fascinating to approach the little world at its own level rather than from a more convenient angle, usually shooting down from a point above it. I should be able to put my right-angle finder accessory to very good use. There’s a good chance I may dedicate one of the best to you. Actually, though, thinking it through, if we could shrink ourselves down to a height of a half-inch, the insects wouldn’t be my main concern, but rather the eight-legged predators! Maybe I’ll just be content with exploring their world at their level in my present form, uncomfortable as it may get at times.

  3. That is the most interesting post I have read all day – very informative and fascinating, and the photos are beautiful. I can’t wait for the rest of the series!!

    • krikitarts says:

      What a nice compliment, Cindy! I’m spending a fair bit of my spare time distilling out my favorite lichen shots from my archives for the series and will try not to disappoint you. It’s a big job, but it’s also great fun. What an amazing and rewarding art form we share!

  4. Louis says:

    I’m fascinated by both the images and the commentary. I know nothing about lichen – I just find the colours and patterns attractive. My post for today, ‘Bark pattern’, reflects my ignorance. Maybe you can help.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thank you, Louis, I’ve only recently formulated a plan to learn more about lichens–and it’s about time! I’ve sent you a couple of websites that I’m planning on consulting on a regular basis to increase my knowledge and to help me to put names to some of them.

  5. Meanderer says:

    Wonderful lichen images.

    • krikitarts says:

      My fascination for lichens seems to deepen each year. Many thanks for your taking the time to let me know that you liked my first lichen post. I’ve just sent you a possible taxonomic identification for your golden lichen post from the other day. I hope you find it helpful!

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