Lichens

What are Lichens?

 

Lichens are a union of two organisms which live together closely as one – algae and fungi – in a mutualistic relationship, meaning that both organisms benefit from each other. They get their nutrition as plants do, in that they use the process of ‘photosynthesis’, using sunlight energy, to make food, therefore they are producers. Lichens can grow on almost any surface and are found across the world in almost all environments, from deserts to arctic tundra. They are most commonly seen growing on trees and rock, especially on the stones in graveyards. They can be very long-lived and are amongst the oldest living things on Earth. Some are thousands of years old! There are about 20,000 known species of lichen.

The main groups of lichen are, fruiticose, foliose, crustose, squamulose, leprose and gelatinous.

What lichens can you find in your local graveyard, school or garden?

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