Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lichen and Moss

This morning was absolutely gorgeous so I decided I would go for a walk. I thought about where I wanted to go and finally decided I would park at St. John's College and take a walk on the Atalaya Trail. Now from the College it is about a seven mile round trip hike but I didn't want to hike to the top. I just wanted to go on a nice little walk. The trail from St. John's is #174 and it joins with trail #170 which starts from Ponderosa Ridge or Wilderness Gate (not sure about this subdivision - I have read both names). I walked from St. John's to the intersection of Trail #170. It was great, the temperture was in the low 60's so it was very enjoyable. I also had the trail to myself - I did not see another human during my entire walk. It was so peaceful. I also take pictures everyday and I was looking for things to photograph. I did see a few birds but I was never able to get close enough to take pictures. Usually I can find a few flowers to photograph but I didn't see any today. So when I reached Trail #170 I had only taken a few pictures. I decided to find a place to sit for a while just to relax so I walked a little on Trail #170 and found a good size rock near a tree where I could sit. So I sat on the rock with my back against the tree, holding my camera and hoping that a bird or two would come by so I could take some pictures. Well, no birds showed up but some lichen caught my eye. So I took a few pictures and then saw a different type on another rock and took pictures of that. I decided I would start back down the trail and look for lichen or moss to take pictures of. As I walked and found things to photograph I wondered exactly what the difference between the two were. Just from looking at them it seemed to me that lichen was drier than moss and was lighter in color. Lichen also felt harder to the touch and seemed to have more texture. I decided that when I got home I would look it up and learn a little more. Here is what I found . . .

Structurally, lichens are among the most bizarre of all forms of life. That's because every lichen species is actually composed of two, possibly even three, distinct species of organisms. One species is a kind of fungus. Usually the other species is an alga, but sometimes it can be a photosynthesizing bacterium known as a cyanobacterium. Sometimes all three organisms are found in one lichen. You can read more about them at Lichens.

Moss is a very simple type of plant that lacks conventional roots, stems, and leaves. It refers to any species of the class Bryopsida and is part of the division Bryophyta. Bryophyta means the first green land plants to develop during the evolutionary process. Moss is thought to have evolved from very primitive vascular plants. Moss has not given rise to any other kind of plant. You can read more at What is Moss?

I had a great walk and found a few differnt types of moss and lichen. I actually enjoyed hunting around to see what I could find. Below are a few pictures I took.

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