Thursday, March 15, 2012

nature journal: deer moss

quick!  where was this photo taken?  except for the lack of pine straw, i'd totally think it was the north florida pinewoods of my childhood.  i've seen many a clump of deer moss there in my day.  but no, these photos were taken on our cedars of lebanon hike right here in tennessee.

what is deer moss you ask?  why deer moss is a slow growing form of lichen.  large clumps like this can take decades to develop.  "a big chunk could be 40 years old or 100 or more." - source

what is lichen you ask?  lichen is a composite organisam which basically means it's made of two organisms that are in a mutualistic relationship.  these two organisms are a fungus and an algae that work together to provide an improved living arrangement.  the fungus provides structure while the algae provides food through photosynthesis. - source

"like all lichens, deer moss has no roots and gets all its moisture from the air – when the weather is dry it is brittle and crunchy, after rain it can be as soft as a cotton ball."  -source

this rootless characteristic makes lichen is a pioneer "species."  since lichen doesn't root in the soil it can come in and take up residence in harsh environments.  the lichen then, through the process of just living, will create soil where other more complex plants can take root and thrive.  thus succession takes place.  -source

is it delightfully obvious that my kid is a scrapbooker's son?  "careful of mommy's depth of field babe!"  i have him well trained.  he's a good boy.  :)

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