Icmadophila Ericetorum, fairy puke

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Icmadophila Ericetorum, Vancouver Island, BC
Icmadophila Ericetorum, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Icmadophila Ericetorum, or as it is more commonly called fairy puke can be found in the Pacific Northwest and on all of Vancouver Island. Icmadophila is a genus of crustose lichen. The genus has six species that can be found in the northern hemisphere. Of these, only Ericetorus can be found in North America. It has a mint green crustose thallus that is dotted with bright pink apothecial disks. It grows on moss that covers rotted wood and peat.

I like finding examples of Lichen, especially ones that I do not see very often, like this one. The most striking thing about lichens is the enormous variety of colors and shapes. They can be orange, deep, pale or bright yellow. They may be green with a yellow tinge, deep green or olive. Some are gray, pale or dark brown, others are mauve, ivory, and even black. They grow on trees, on dead wood, on bare rock or barren soil.

Lichens grow on every part of Vancouver Island and when you start to look for them, you will realize that they are so very abundant and so very pretty to see, take a very close look and you will be amazed at their beauty.

Lichens have long been thought of like plants. Indeed their behavior is quite similar to that of plants. Nevertheless, they have been mostly ignored by botanists and often regarded as simple, odd and unusual organisms. They are composed of two different entities that support one another, one is a fungus and the other is an algae.

Living together in such a way is referred to as symbiosis. The nature of this close relationship is still not quite resolved although lichens are commonly referred to as the standard example of symbiosis.

As you walk through our island forests, look down, there you just might see the tiny gardens, gardens grander than any forests. These gardens usually grow on the fallen logs and in hidden corners of the forest. Surrounded by ferns, tree seedlings, and small plants, minute forests of lichens that have small, grayish-green leaves. They cover the log with tiny upright spires that rise toward the sunshine and at the tip of each, you will see a beautiful red cap. This scene repeats itself all over the forests of Vancouver Island.

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