Being a temperate climate, with elements of rain forest, South Gippsland is home to a wide variety of lichen, fungi and mosses. I’ve always been fascinated by rain forests and rain forest denizens and the like so, whenever I go anywhere, I always have my camera at hand prepared for a photo opportunity. And so it is that I end up with a slowly building collection of photographs covering the often overlooked of our forest denizens; nothing that one would claim as being exceptional, but interesting to me at least. They represent small alien worlds and life forms which, in a way they are to many people.
Every time I post photographs of something, I do a bit of research to see if there’s anything interesting or unusual about the subject matter that can add to the story that I’m telling. As it happens, lichen have a very interesting story to tell. Rather than being a simple plant, lichens in fact consist of two organisms, a fungus and an algae, living in a symbiotic relationship. By working together, both are able to survive where individually they could not. I’m not going to attempt to identify any of them as, after hours of research, I was struggling to find any examples that accurately matched what I had photographed.
Mossvale Park is home to lots of lichen, but oddly enough, you don’t find it growing on every tree, only certain types seem to be favoured and I haven’t been able to find why that’s the case. Lichens are also an important food source for many animals, notably in the northern hemisphere, and are often the first plant life to colonise barren landscapes, preparing them for other plant life. They apparently also have useful medicinal properties.
One fascinating aspect of lichens is that they can apparently be an excellent indicator of air quality, as the growth and survival of lichens is affected by the quality of the air around them. But, on the other hand, lichens have recently been accused of contributing towards climate change.
No matter what, lichens are certainly an interesting and varied denizen of the small world and what I’ve shown represents just a small collection of the numerous varieties that I find every day at Mossvale Park. As there are rainforests and the like not too far away from where we live, I’m sure that even more samples are just waiting to be discovered.