I’m Easy Lichen Sunday Morning…

When hunting lichens, it’s important to blend in. Stalking wild Lecanoromycetes is made all the easier by wearing appropriate camouflage. Lichens are slow, but they can see you coming.
Glad to see the professionals agree!

Back in December, my partner Molly and I discovered a very rare-for-the-city Usnea lichen. When another Usnea genus lichen was found in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx not so long ago, it was worthy of being written up in the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. This was because it was the first record of the species here in NYC in almost two centuries.

So we contacted the proper authorities, in this case Dr. James Lendemer at NYBG. This week James and one of his PhD students, Carly R. Anderson, came to collect a sample of this tiny beard lichen.
(Like the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima, this is actually a re-posed picture because snipping a bit of lichen is a pretty quick operation…).

The reason for the sampling: there are two possible species this could be, and you can only really tell via DNA analysis. At least for specimens in the city, which don’t seem to get larger and more characteristic as they might elsewhere. (I wrote about lichens and their nemesis, air pollution, here.)

Since the specimen is located on private property, we contacted more proper authorities. Always get permission for taking samples, kids. In this case, Sara Evans, Green-Wood’s Manager of Horticulture Operations and Projects, gave James the OK and joined our expedition.
Also along for the ride were some of my hazelnut flour brownies (this recipe, but with a touch of salt) for snacks. Excellent moral support for a rainy day expedition by the BEF, or Brownie Expeditionary Force. This trio of rich Nutella-y squares didn’t make it back…

Stay tuned for the Species Reveal Party!

2 Responses to “I’m Easy Lichen Sunday Morning…”

  1. 1 elwnyc February 17, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Sad about the brownies not surviving the trip, but that was their destiny. I’ve copied the recipe and may try it – how much salt did you add?

    Oh, and I’m also likin’ the lichen.

    • 2 mthew February 17, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      Just a touch of salt. Probably less than half a teaspoon. The first time I made them, I sprinkled some large flakes of sea salt on top when they were done when I’d realized the recipe didn’t include any salt.

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