[T-B] Moss-coated trees, lichen and moss on tree trunks, and me with my hand lens, in Fern Canyon, Humbolt Redwoods, Northern California
At the end of 2013 I had the pleasure of taking The Symbiosis Project
on tour around the northwest Pacific coast of the USA. This region hosts a prolific array of lichen, due to the cool damp weather of west Washington state, Oregon, and northern California. This climate creates a temperate rainforest
ecoregion, home to not only an astonishing variety of lichen but also mosses, liverworts, ferns and fungi, in addition to its famous coastal redwood forests. I encountered many species of lichen I wouldn’t usually see here in Reading, the most visually bizarre of which was definitely Icmadophila ericetorum
or ‘bubblegum lichen’ as it’s sometimes known! Peltigera polydactyla
came a close second (central photo below). We also found a number of beautiful lichens
common to our Atlantic woodlands, including ‘coral lichens’ from the genus Sphaerophorus. (Useful guides to such Atlantic lichens can be found here and here).
In addition to RNG herbarium resources for continuing these studies now I’m back in Reading, I’ve been using an excellent book – ‘Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest‘ by Bruce McCune and Linda Geiser. I highly recommend it for its key and clear photographs, and would also recommend the websites of some of the book’s photographic contributors including Stephen Sharnoff, Richard Droker, and the Ways of Enlichenment group, for visual resources and useful general lichen information.
I'm an artist and former neuroscientist, and I'm a visiting artist at Herbarium RNG at the University of Reading, UK. I'm interested in natural forms and textures, and the overlaps between biological images and surreal art. You can see more of my work at www.immysmith.com and http://www.redbubble.com/people/immy and I'm @DrImmySmith on Twitter.
I'm part of a science-art collaborative group called 'Imagining Science' and you can find out more at http://imaginingscienceart.blogspot.co.uk/
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