But how do you tell when the lichen is Diplochistes and when it’s Cladonia? I have many bacteria—and some fungi—in what’s called my microbiota, and they’re useful for my continued health. A Field Guide to California Lichens features stunning new photographs of some 500 lichen species by award-winning nature photographer Stephen Sharnoff. Every story from Bay Nature magazine is the product of a team of people dedicated to connecting our readers to the world around them and increasing environmental literacy. Even here, we see granular, powdery-looking black packets—some kind of lichen, maybe—growing on the wooden footbridge. At this point we get down to business: They’re identified by the fungus. And it’s known for handling pollution well. As discussed earlier, no one has observed lichenization in a lab, and given that a very powerful microscope is needed to see a fungal spore, we’ll never observe it in nature. Dry lichen crumbles, bits break off, it gets dispersed. Lace lichen joins the California poppy as the state flower and the grizzly bear as the state animal. ), which is also pale green and dangly. We walk on a bridge over the spillway from Jewel Lake, which is heartbreakingly low. Her interest in lichens is an extension of that, she says. Perhaps fishnet-stocking lichen would be a little too racy a nickname. The composition of a lichen community shifts in response to pollution levels. On July 15, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill designating lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, the California Sate Lichen. A lichen’s body is called a thallus—as in, a thallus is to lichen as a body is to humans. The photobiont can’t, thanks to some kind of suppression brought on by the fungus. Identity works only so long as you don’t look very hard at it; I have, at present, no explanation for how it functions whatsoever. Red List of California Lichens: an interactive forum for assembling and maintaining a list of rare and endangered California lichens. Sign up today: Sponsored by East Bay Regional Park District. The question of what constitutes an individual lichen, and what it is for a “lichen” to reproduce, actually gets even more vexing and existential. Once I’m home, this lichen immediately attracts the attention of my six-month-old kitten. And researchers have no idea why. Well, reproduction. Bay Nature’s email newsletter delivers local nature stories, hikes, and events to your inbox each week. Jelly lichens are black and gooey, except when they are dry and brittle, and they have cyanobacteria as the “food-making” part. Farther on we see what may be a Ramalina lichen of indeterminate species, which looks like miniature green threads sprouting bushily from a tree branch. In July, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill declaring the lace lichen—found along the Pacific coast and throughout the coast ranges—the state lichen. But there’s a whole separate genetic entity in there, just as Diploschistes is residing in Cladonia—though, obviously, the absorbed fetal twin doesn’t eventually take over every cell. For example, nitrogen-loving lichens like Xanthoria candeleria have been spotted recently and newly in Yosemite, thanks to pollution coming from Central Valley agriculture. Take the headache further: Let’s talk people. Most of us don’t notice they’re doing anything until we take a round of antibiotics. It’s hard to know precisely what species a lichen is without a hand lens or, in many cases, chemicals or a microscope, because what distinguishes different types of lichen are very tiny structures. reside. Lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, is easily recognized. These bushy lichens grow most quickly, Evans says. Lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, is easily recognized. So: Are these people one organism or two? Philosopher Heraclitus would say you can’t step in the same river twice, so these are different lichens; Aristotle would suggest that since the “what-it-is” of the thing has not changed, it’s the same lichen.