LICHENS Exploring in Gwinear

Gwinear is a treasure trove!

This is my first foray into trying to identify lichens.

In the photo above is a smooth green lichen covering the stonework around the Indian-head Mason's Mark on the 15th century tower of Gwinear Parish Church.

I look at the orange crustose lichens below every day. This slate upstairs-window ledge is part of a sixteen year old extension to our stone cottage, just a mile from Churchtown.

The lichen below is Xanthoria parietina, the large patch is six cm. long and 4cm. wide. My vocabulary is increasing every minute, thanks to a text book by Frank Dobson.

The Body or Thallus of this lichen, as you can see, is not differentiated into stem, leaves and roots. It does not grow from one point, but appears to gradually cover and hold to a hard surface. Parietin is a bright orange pigment which protects the algal cells from too much sunlight. Lichens require sunshine, rain ( plenty of both in Cornwall), and unpolluted air. The lobes at the outer edge on the Xanthoria are foliate (leaf-like) and some are rising just a little from the slate at the edge of the Thallus. The little raised cup shaped discs with lobed edges in the central area of the Thallus are the apothecia, or fruiting bodies.

You can see apothecia on two other little white lichens in this photo. Until I get the correct name for these, I shall call the top right one 'porridge with raisins'. Enlarge this photo as much as you can, see the jam-tart edges to the apothecia, and the crinkly foliate lobes on the outer edges of the absolutely gorgeous yellow Xanthoria parietina,

Lichens are complex plant- like organisms. All are made up of algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. This association of algae and fungi is usually beneficial to both.

A wider view taken two months later, January 1st 2016. Showing at the top is the 6cm by 2cm Thallus in the original photo above, but including the rest of the patches of Xanthoria on this east facing ledge. The two small patches on the rim are 2cm across. Birds land on the gable above, and face into the prevailing S.W.wind. Their droppings contribute to the rain- washed nutrition pouring down. Clinging to the rim you can just see the inch high stems of the common moss Bryum capillare. The dry, red spores of the moss have been blown away in a wild wind that brings an element of salt from the even wilder Autumn gales whipping up the waves in St Ives bay.
The greyish white lichen may be Lecanora atra, It has an encrusted pale grey waxy growth. .The matrix, or body of this lichen is anchored into crevices. It is powdery and thick. The black apothecia , or fruiting bodies, are conspicuous.
Still looking at a one -slate wide shower room window ledge. I would love to make an embroidery of the glorious cream lace spreading on the nearest part of the slate to this caption. Please name the lichen if you recognise it. I can change Adobe Spark,with ease!

Yellow and grey- green crustose shield lichens on the south wall of Gwinear Church.

Below is Flavoparmelia caperata, the common shield lichen. This one is to be found underneath the front church window just to the left side of the entrance.

These lichens become greener when wet.

The blue green wrinkled outer lobes form a collar in the lichen on the black stone above.

Parmelia caperata is common in woodland and is greener when wet. (from a churchyard twig blown down in wild weather.)
The wildest wind caused the black underside of the shield lichen to become visible here.
Tufts of Ramalina siliquosa

RAMALINA siliquosa (above and below top right,) from the South wall of the church. The Thallus is tufted, greenish -grey and stringy looking. It has just one holdfast. The minute white seed pods, or soralia, are distributed along the thin outer stringy margins below on middle right.

All the lichens are very gradually bringing their new life to the churchyard.

Ramalina subfarinacea, or sea ivory, covers the cross below completely.

The Ramalina branches are small and much divided. A diffuse, spreading holdfast enables it to form a dense sward. This burial area (no.3), is within sight (just) of the sea near Hayle.

Ramalina subfarinacea

In 1990 there was a two day study, by members of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, of the wildlife across three of the four burial areas at Gwinear. I noticed that there were ten lichens listed. For this beginner's project I looked up each one. I have not yet found Rhizocarpon geographicum, the map lichen, but have seen an utterly gorgeous example from Norway, on line.

If you can help me by correcting any mis-identifications or errors, I would welcome that. Please use the 'Contact us' section in 'Around our villages today' within Press 'please contact Beth!'

I think that interest in lichens will increase because the smart phone cameras give such detailed images. 'Caring for God' Acre', available within the links section of the website, provides a superb lichens investigation page for beginners young and old. It encourages describing and distinguishing lichens without using their names 👍.

This photo was taken ten years ago. The lichens on this cross are now obliterating the design within the wheel head.

Beth Saundry- Gwinear's canny wee Lay Weeder

6th January 2016

Created By
Beth Saundry


Beth Saundry

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