Lobaria Oregana Lichen

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Lobaria Oregana Lichen, BC Coastal Region

Lobaria Oregana Lichen, Vancouver Island, BC
Lobaria Oregana, Photo By Bud Logan

Lobaria Oregana Lichen is also known as lettuce lichen because of its lettuce like leaf shape, it grows at the tops of douglas fir trees. It looks just like the iceberg lettuce after it has wilted a bit.

This lichen is able to absorb nitrogen from the air.  Most plants get nitrogen from the soil, Lobaria Oregana Lichen can’t reach the soil because it lives in the tops of the forest, so it fertilizes itself from the air.

Lobaria Oregana Lichen tend to break off and fall to the ground during the winter windy season here on Coastal BC. When they fall to the ground, they feed the forest. Forests have very nitrogen poor soil environments and any added fertilizer is much needed. Without that nitrogen the forest could not grow. Lobaria Oregana needs the trees to reach the canopy and as the lichen falls to the ground around the trees it adds its nitrogen to the forest floor, where it is absorbed by the trees . Simply put, Lobaria Oregana Lichen is a major source of nitrogen in some of the big old growth forests of our Coast.

It grows on douglas fir bark in the pacific northwest. It may not be able to come back to the forests after logging, i have seen very little, if any in the coastal second growth forests. It needs the big trees to exist.

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