In the Ditch

We had been in the bottomland and near the creek for most of the outing (Jan 18th). Then we finally came to a shallow ravine or maybe you would call it a ditch. At most it was only four or five deep.

So if you saw this lichen on a tree, you might think it was dying or dead. Indeed that would be wrong. It is the Placidium arboreum! When wet, it does get a light olive green. Like many lichens the algae component shows through when the lichen gets wet. So don’t let it fool you. It is quite alive!
The Woodsia obtusa fern was rather droopy. We concluded it must have been because of the recent cold weather.
A moss capsule with its teeth spreading out.
The Plagiomnium cuspidatum moss with its sterile stringy part lined the bank. Woodsia obtusa nestled in too!
A view of the bank and the ditch.
More mosses, Woodsia obtusa, and another lichen. Yes again you might think the gray-black might be dying. Wrong! This particular lichen has cyanobacteria or blue-green algae if you prefer to call it that instead. One common name for it is Field Dog-lichen (Peltigera rufescens). There are several species of Peltigera that can be found in our area. However it is uncommon to find any of the Peltigera species at the grasslands.
In fact I brought it home to confirm its ID (with permission of course). The apothecia is a brick red and turned under and described as saddle-shape. Moreover it is not always easy to see.

Spores are long (70 x 3 microns) and needle shaped.

The asci (the place where the spores are stored) turned blue with iodine. It was so much fun to get back to the microscope. It had been awhile. 🙂
On the underside the raised veins glowed positive with UV!
Then you look under the thallus to see the raised veins. The rhizines are tufted and matted together. The rhizines are holdfasts like roots are for plants.

It is great to get back to a lichen! Indeed!

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Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know


  1. I’m always happy to see all the life you find on your outings. I wonder if we could kill our planet any faster.

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