I have had the great fortune to be travelling in Australia since early December. In the midst of visiting friends and family I have also been in search of lichens.
Discovering lichens on a rusty steel hull of a 100 year old gold digging machine in a dried up river bed has been the greatest surprise to me.
The most noticeable difference from lichens at Kickapoo Valley Reserve has been the extreme absence of tree lichens in many areas. While considering this, it clicked that over half of the trees in Australia being eucalyptus and melaluca all decortify every year (lose their bark). Lichens being slow growing communities are not so partial to growing on constantly changing strata.
I was sure I would find many in the damp sub-tropical forests, and farmlands, but was really surprised to discover them in what I would have considered inhospitable locations: dry river beds with dead trees and running rampant across boulders washed by ocean tides and blasted by hot sun. Some of these locations have been in drought for over 7 years. Seasides, bereft of most plant life and old tombstones in dry country graveyards, were populated with many different communities of lichens. I do not know many of their names, but it has been a delight to discover their adaptability.
The colors are quite spectacular, particularly in the moist warm areas of the eastern coast.
Paying attention to lichens on this journey to Australia has added a new dimension to my journey, as I not only witness the drama of this landscape in its large breathtaking vistas, but also able to recognize the miniaturized vistas and complexities of lichen communities in very diverse landscapes.
It is a new depth of exploration and has expanded my vision of forests, seascapes, and dry farms and eucalypt forests.
I wonder what lichens exist in the dry moonscape of Cooper Pedy or the towering red rock of Uluru and the Olgas all places I had the opportunity to travel to in the past, but did not know enough to seek them out.
Im “lichen” these lichens as they are adding a new dimension to my journey.
submitted by mary lou