Lichen from the Woods Sketch

Do you remember our hiking trip on Thanksgiving Day? Well, I found the most beautiful piece of lichen growing on a section of branch. This little piece of branch was laying in the middle of the trail.

Ohhhh, ahhhh! I looks like an alien formation! I love it!

I am fascinated with lichen.
What is lichen? What is the difference between lichen and moss?

Let’s learn about lichen:

  • Lichen is a result of a fungi feeding off of algae or cyanobacteria. Together they make a whole new organism called lichen (fungi + algae= lichen) or (fungi + cyanobacteria= lichen). The algae contains chlorophyll produced during photosynthesis feeding the lichen. The lichen in return can protect the algae and also give back some nutrients by leaching the minerals out of what ever structure it is on (rocks, plants, bark).
  • Lichens can survive extreme conditions and are found almost everywhere. They can withstand freezing, heat, and no water. Once completely dried out, it can rejuvenate itself when in contact with rain or moisture.
  • May be the oldest living thing on earth.
  • Lichen is not moss. Even though moss can be tiny, moss is a plant consisting of small leaf-like structures and stems, favoring dark moist areas. Lichen does not have a stem and leaf structure.

Here is my sketch. The lichen measured 3.175 cm long on the branch. It was a beautiful green/blue color when moist. The flat vegetative tissue of the lichen is called thallus. The tiny “horn” structures are called apothecia. Apothecia is the spore producing body. This is where the spores are released for reproduction. Fascinating!

Oh there is nothing better in the whole world than to go hiking, discover something amazing, sketch it out, and learn! If every class was hands-on like this I would never leave school.

By the way, try to paint your subject immediately. My lichen is now dried out and is a light gray color, not green at all anymore.


  1. I am wondering which lichen that is. You have portrayed it so well, one should be able to identify it. I wonder if it is ‘black-foam lichen’, Anzia colpodes. What do you think?

  2. In our area, lichen comes is almost every color, including red, orange, yellow, pink & blue. It never really seems to photograph properly, but I’d probably have to bring my tripod to get really good shots (& I’m already slow-moving enough in the woods!)

  3. Northern Birder: I am wondering too! Thanks for the loverly comment! I will definately look up your suggestion and do more research.

    Lana: I love lichen! Yes, a tripod would probably get a good pic, I hate carring things with me though. Sometimes a slow hike is better to notice things…don’t you think? 😀

    Jim: You have an awesome idea there. Yes, I think I will do that experiment at a later time and record it. Thanks for the cool idea!!!

  4. I was inspired by lichen during my exploration of ceramics, I did most of my sketches with watercolors, but somewhere along the line I also threw in an ode to undersea forms. I am fascinated with each, because of the colors and variety of shapes.

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