Moss, Lichen And Fungi

Moss, Lichen and Fungi are popping up all over, like seedlings sprouting in spring, which I guess they actually are. Maybe sporelings instead of seedlings. Added: The proper term seems to be Fruiting bodies. Thanks, Nell Jean! Above is British soldier lichen, Cladonia cristatella growing on the cedar boards of the blueberry box.

The conditions are right, there has been ample rain and the heat is hiding behind sweeping cold fronts coming down from Canada and beyond here at the Fairegarden in Southeastern Tennessee.

Mosses are Bryophytes, without inner plumbing for transporting water through their system although they do like moisture along with shady conditions. Moss has no roots, but rather filaments that take up nutrients, and the tiniest of leaves that absorb moisture.

Patience is its own reward with moss growing. My avatar, the vivacious Mrs. Bongo Congo, made from a dollop of leftover hypertufa mix during trough making, is turning from pink to green, becoming one with the garden. I approve. (For the backstory of the Bongo Congos, click here.

Lichens are not true mosses, but are compound organisms existing together in a symbiotic relationship, a fungus and a photosynthetic, usually algae. Like moss, lichens can grow on rocks or wood, as epiphytes, meaning without soil. Some lichens are extremely sensitive to changes in the air quality, and are used by science to gauge air pollution and ozone depletion. So lichens are more than just a pretty face.

They simply appear here, the moss, lichen and fungi, like magic.

They add Zen to the Zen Garden, (click here to learn about it), colonizing on Christopher’s rocks.

The total degradation of Ferngully, (click here for his story), is nearly complete, with the help of happy Fungi.

It looks like these puffballs, Lycoperdon pyriforme have puffed their stuff, ensuring their enduring presence as long as there are bits of the old maple tree lingering in the loam.

Fungi are neither plant nor animal, but exist in the mind of science in their own Kingdom. (Although the brilliant artists of the early Disney Studios thought otherwise.)


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13 Responses to Moss, Lichen And Fungi

  1. Gail says:

    Frances, They are wonderful! You’ve such a marvelous variety; great info, too~I need to start taking a much closer look when ever I see them. I haven’t seen the little red beauty before, but, I’ve seen oranges, yellows and even a blue one in my garden, I am hoping the recent rains have perked my little wet weather stream mossy area up. xxoogail

    Thanks Gail. One does have to get down and look very closely for these beauties. The British soldiers only seems to grow on cedar, so if you have some, that would be the place to look, where it is wet and rotten. It sounds like you have some fabulous colors there!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Aren’t lichen the most beautiful sculptural growths ever? I just love to see them. They are big splashes of pattern, each different. I will forever think of the mushrooms dancing in the garden spreading their spores after watching that video. Have a great week.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, you too have a wonderful week as the days race by. The lichen are like lace, and the color is sublime. I do love them. Disney’s Fantasia has always been my favorite film of all time, bar none.

  3. Barbara H. says:

    Mosses and lichens – I love them. I remember reading about the woodland moss garden of Maria Wall (I think that’s her name) in northern Alabama shortly after I moved here. It totally opened my mind about moss and it’s possibilities, which you, dear Frances, confirmed in this and other posts.

    Thanks Barbara. Moss is so soft and organic, full of magic and mystery. I did try to make a large moss patch early on at this garden. Keeping up with the weeding proved too much to have just moss. Now the plants and moss coexist happily with less work from the gardener, as it should be!

  4. Rose says:

    Beautiful capture of all the fungi and lichens in your garden, Frances! Mrs. Bongo looks especially appealing with her green make-up. These creations are truly miracles of nature–loved the Fantasia fungi dance, too!

    Thanks Rose. Mrs. Bongo Congo says thank you, as well. It has taken several years for her to get mossy, not sure what the secret is, but I can’t wait to see her turn green. Isn’t Fantasia wonderful? What a masterpiece.

  5. Leslie says:

    I love how they just appear there! After all the moss talk this year I will be paying more attention this winter to see what I find in my garden.

    The mosses, etc. are like jewels in the garden, just appearing like magic. I can’t wait to see what shows up in Davis.

  6. Very interesting, and you have so many examples. I pretty much have some moss in the shade and lichen.

    Hi Dee, thanks for stopping by. We are rich in moss variety here, I love them all.

  7. I found an interesting pile of fungi the other day on a stump with a dusting of snow on it. Amazing what will grow here, even in our arid landscape

    Hi Susan, thanks for visiting. Good deal on your fungi, they do love rotting wood, even in a dry climate, it sounds like.

  8. Nell Jean says:

    I think fruiting bodies is the term you were searching for. British Soldiers are my fav. It grows on ancient heart pine in the light’ard pile here but it isn’t cold enough for it to be spectacular just yet.

    Thanks Nell Jean, for the correct terminology. It has been added with a link to your seed scattering blog. The British Soldiers are so little, they were discovered here for several years. Now I know where to look for them.

  9. Janet says:

    I’ve been getting down close to lots of fruiting bodies recently too and they are hard to photograph but utterly fascinating.

    Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. We must get down quite low to photograph these fabulous fruiting bodies, I agree!

  10. Lola says:

    I loved walking in the woods & looking at all the lichens & anything else that chose to grow there. I seen some very pretty things.
    Loved the clip.

    Thanks for joining me, Lola.

  11. andrea says:

    They are so beautiful especially the first and last. You are so knowledgeable and the article very well written. I know them too (although in general terms), but i can’t write it as nice. The last one seems like it can be eaten, although I know many of them are poisonous. I wonder why you put in your header “alternative universe”, but I love any of the alternatives.

    Thanks Andrea. My knowledge is greatly expanded thanks to our friend Google, it is fun to learn more about the world in which we live. The red topped fungus is poisonous, I believe. I assume they are all poisonous and would never eat them, my knowledge is not that trustworthy to take a chance! HA The alternative universe was adopted when we went from Faire Garden, two words, the blog name on blogger, to Fairegarden, one word, when we switched to wordpress. I have thought about changing it, but can’t decide on new terminology. I left the blogger site up for a while, but have since deleted it so wordpress in the only fairegarden universe now. All of the old blogger posts were transferred to wordpress when the switch was made anyway.

  12. Sometimes…it’s the little things that matter! 🙂 Great post.

    Thanks Freda. I agree about the little things.

  13. commonweeder says:

    It has been a very mossy year around here – so much dampness. I used to see those little red “british soldiers’ but not recently, alas. Beautiful post.

    Thanks Pat. It has certainly been damper than usual this fall. I don’t remember having so much rain, and so often. I am not complaining, but wish we had some of this in the summertime for the farmers.

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