California likes the lichen

Hi Everyone,

Last week the Marin Independent Journal had an article about the lace lichen (Ramalina menziesii) becoming California’s official state lichen. Michael had told us about this on our September 2015 hike at Marshall Beach so he’d already put us in the loop back then – thanks for the head’s up! Even though we can usually read the IJ with dispatch each day, this was a sweet article to linger over. Bravo to the California Lichen Society and Assemblyman Marc Levin for sponsoring this bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last summer going into effect this January 1st. It was fun at a time when mycologists again celebrate the mushroom world to give some of the spot light to the “lowly lichens” – finally getting the respect they deserve.

Monterey Pine with lace lichens and Footloose hikers with Michael

Lace lichen catching some sunlight, blowing in the breeze. We’ve enjoyed them as well artfully dangling from many oaks at Audubon’s Bouverie Preserve.

There are a number of fascinating links about lichens, here are a few for your perusal. The California Lichen Society has an address in Fairfax, California. Be sure to check out their Facebook insert with the link with a fascinating conversation with Dr. James Lendemer, Assistant Curator in the New York Botanical Garden. “Hastings is a Biological Field Station of the University of California . . . in the Santa Lucia mountain range in Monterey County, California.” Here it describes the lace lichen being a combination of fungus and algae. “Often called ’Spanish Moss’, lace lichen is not a moss. In fact, the ’Spanish Moss’ of the south-eastern states is not a moss either.” Excellent summary of the role of lace lichens from nesting material for hummingbirds to their role in capturing wind-borne nutrients. This splendid article not only describes lace lichen but also gives us more detail on some of the other members of the lichen family. Their history goes back 400 hundred million years but from their architecture they are “likely latecomers, evolutionarily speaking”. Some nice forays into Greek philosophy and a surprising interaction with some Ramalina completes the short account.
The author, Elizabeth Lopatto, writes “It frustrates and saddens me that our humbler parks are relatively barren of the weird dangling nonsense.” “In the mid-19th century, it was misclassified in the moss and liverwort family. Beatrix Potter, of Peter Rabbit fame, was an unlikely lichen champion. . . . She produced many wonderful, detailed drawings of fungus and lichen species. Since she was a woman, though, a male scientist had to present her scientific paper and research to the Linnean Society of London.” Some of you may know and remember this beautiful trail at Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve.

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Progress on the patient front though I still have the wound vac for a few more weeks (cf. that black strap in the last picture). Energy is improving each day and while I may not see you on the first hikes hopefully down the line sooner rather than later. Thanks for your outpouring of love and caring, you’re the very best campaneros of the trail. Pat & Lew

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