Lichens are quite different "plants" in that they are a combination of a fungus and an alga living together in an arrangement that benefits both - a relationship known as symbiosis.
However, between the two of them, they develop a variety of shapes, and have all kinds of structures which are found in no other plant.
Many lichens are dull grey or green-grey colours, not something to catch the eye, but others like Cladonia floerkeana shown here, are quite colourful. (The red knobs are a reproductive structure).
Some will appear a dull green -grey when dry, but when it rains they will soak up the water and become a bright green. Others can be very dark - almost invisible in the shadows in the bush.
Everyone is probably familiar with the grey lichens on the bark of trees - some are round, some are long and straggly. But other lichens on the bark of trees are visible only in that they are like patches of coloured bark, often giving some attractive patterns on tree trunks, especially kauris.
Lichens can be found in a variety of places - on rocks, trees, posts - you dont need to go to the bush to see them. Have a look in your backyard, or at the trees in the streets or parks.
Two useful books for New Zealand's Lichens are:
An Introductory Illustrated Guide Allison Knight
A5, 56 pp, full colour, laminated cover.
Published by the Botanical Society of Otago, using the Audrey Eagle Botanical Publishing Fund.
This introductory guide celebrates the extraordinary diversity of New Zealand lichens with full colour images of over 250 common lichen species, plus a glossary illustrating over 60 useful identifying features. Species are divided into 4 colour-coded ecosystems and displayed in order of the three main growth forms.
New Zealand is exceptionally rich in lichens and harbours around 10% of the world’s lichen species. They are an important, yet often overlooked, component of every ecosystem from the seashore to the mountaintops and contribute over 1800 taxa to New Zealand’s biodiversity —nearly as many species as seed plants.
Ordering details: available NOW!
$20/copy. 10% discount for members of Botanical Societies and JCBLW participants ($18/copy)
25% discount for orders of 10 or more ($15/copy)
Pick-up at the Department of Botany Office,
479 Great King St., Dunedin North, New Zealand
Only CORRECT CHANGE or Cheques, please.
Cheques payable to Botanical Society of Otago
Or order in advance by Internet banking:
Westpac Account No: 03 0905 0029158 00.
Code: Lichen Guide
Reference: Your name
Postal orders: add Postage and packing;
1–2 copies @ $2; 3–6 copies @ $5; 7–12 copies @ $6
Email: Pay by Internet Banking as above.
Post: Send cheque, as above, to: Treasurer, BSO
PO Box 6214, Dunedin North 9059
Be sure to enclose or email your delivery address to: email@example.com
All proceeds will go to the Botanical Society of Otago to replenish the Audrey Eagle Botanical Publishing Fund.
An oldie but still useful!
Long out of print, but you may find it second-hand somewhere.