Not Counting Raindrops, Until I See Them

Pixie Cup Lichen Califonia

I’m not counting any raindrops yet, but the newspaper and meteorologist seem pretty confident we have a big storm arriving tonight and staying through the weekend. I’m keeping a day clear on my calendar so I can visit my mossy Bay Area haunts. Included here are photos I took after the rains in December 2014.

Pixie Cup Lichen Berkeley

The cuppy things are Pixie Cup Lichen. I’d never even seen this lichen before I started this project to photograph moss. One sees things that were unseen before one really starts to look intently! It a major axiom or life lesson. We determine what we see by how we look and what we look for!

Mushrooms California

Getting back to the Pixie Cups. This British Wildflower site by Roger Darlington describes them thus: “Shaped like Shreks’ Ears or miniature golf-tees (podetia), albeit somewhat battered and sand-blasted ones. The sprinkling of light-grey-green pixie dust (squamules) between them is part of the lichen.”

 

I’ve been hiking around all my life and never seen a pixie cup before this year! Let’s say it’s a perk of my moss project.

While moss and lichen favor a lot of the same moist places,  lichen is structurally very different. D-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t is not understating it. Lichen may be the only symbiotic organism….Like moss and liverwort it’s a non-vascular plant, meaning it doesn’t have a system of cells that carry water, which it why it remains small and close to the ground. It gets water and minerals from its surface.

The amazing, weird and different thing about lichen is that it’s made of algae on the inside and fungus on the outside. The algae have chorolphyll which help it make food for the fungus…I’ve oversimplified what is known about the alga/fungus relationship of fungus. If you want to know more about this unique relationship—consult another source:)

Pixie Cups Berkeley

Enjoy the storm!

Moss Book by Karen Nierlich
Moss and Lichen is a collection of Moss images by photographer Karen Nierlich including the streets of Berkeley, Albany, Tilden, Muir Woods and the Dipsea Trail. Available from Lulu.com for $19.99. Click on book cover to access reviews and purchase!

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