Six on Saturday: Lichens

Grey foliose lichen on Apple

Some things in the garden like peace and quiet and to be left undisturbed. I have a certain empathy with this! Lichens are not plants but something completely different. They are a composite organism that forms due to a symbiotic relationship between fungi and an algae or cyanobacteria. The fungi benefit from the carbohydrates produced through photosynthesis by the algae and the algae benefit from the protection of the fungal filaments which also collect moisture and nutrients.

They are very slow growing and need a place to develop and spread over many years. Here at Waverley the (now) large fruit trees that we planted 25 years ago are host to a range of beautiful lichens (The Orchard – beautiful in spring, productive in autumn).

The relatively undisturbed nature of stone walls and gravestones also make excellent habitats for lichens and the natural history of churchyards is explored in an interesting new book by Stefan Buczacki. (Book review: “Earth to Earth, A Natural History of Churchyards” by Stefan Buczacki). Lichens are also known to be good indicators of air quality with different lichens being more or less sensitive to air pollution.

There are three main growth forms; fruticose forms that have many stringy, leafless branches, foliose forms that have flat leaf-like structures and crustose forms that lie flat on the surface. Wikipedia suggests that there are over 20,000 species of lichen so I am not going to attempt to identify the ones shown here other than to indicate their growth form.

Here are my six lichens for Saturday.

Grey Foliose lichen on wooden chair
Grey Foliose lichen on wooden chair
White crustose lichen on wall
White crustose lichen on wall
Yellow foliose (?) lichen on Apple
Yellow foliose (?) lichen on Apple
Crustose lichen on Whitebeam
Crustose lichen on Whitebeam
Yellow Crustose lichen on concrete pillar
Yellow Crustose lichen on concrete pillar
Grey foliose lichen on Apple
Grey foliose lichen on Apple

There is a lot of detailed information about these fascinating composite organisms on Wikipedia.


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

13 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Lichens”

  1. There’s lots of lichen here on walls, trees, pavements … Trouble it it’s all off-white and crustose. I find I suffer more from lichen envy when visiting other gardens than I do plant envy! But you can’t buy lichens in the garden centres.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a bit of a thing for lichen too. I appreciate it especially in the winter, when those pops of colour are so welcome. And such vibrant colours too. I love the turquoise ones the most. They look fab on dark wet branches.

    Liked by 1 person

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