One plant group I love the most are Lichens. Lichens are technically NOT a plant, as they are only occurring thru a photosynthetic partnership between fungi and algae or cyanobacteria. Lichens don’t have a vascular system, and typically spread through spores or fragmentation. Lichens don’t have any organized leaf, root or stem structures; they are only equipped with hyphae and mycelium (which are the vegetative part of the fungus). Lichens grow in 6 different forms, including crusts, scales, leaves, clubs, shrubs, and hairs.
There are over 500 lichens species in Alberta’s forests, but my favourites are Cladina mitis (reindeer lichen) and Cladina stellaris (Northern reindeer lichen). They are very similar to each other, with key distinguishing features being their colour and shape. Reindeer lichen is pale yellowish green, and forms mats on ground, whereas Northern reindeer lichen is yellowish white, grows upright & reminds me of cauliflower.
We will continue with our love of plants posts all month long!