This cladonia lichen was growing in the shelter of the roots of a stump amongst a lush growth of polytrichum moss, by the path that leads up onto the moor at Langsett.
The ‘golf-tee’ shape of the fruiting bodies, with their dusting of flour-like powder is typical of Cladonia fimbriata, which is found on rotting wood, disturbed ground and crevices in walls, particularly amongst mosses.
The powder, known as soredia, is a way of dispersing the lichen as it flakes off the fruiting body. An individual soredium contains a few cells of algae and a few strands of the fungus that together make up the lichen.
The gritstone alongside the track is mainly lichen-free but a few rocks near the edge of the plantation support some crustose lichen species.
‘Pores in a Ring’
This grey crustose lichen is dotted with black fruiting bodies. Where the gritstone has been chipped away, the fresher surface is stained red with iron. I’m guessing that the gritty crystals in the dark grey weathered surface around the lichens are quartz, so the surface would be acidic.
I think that this might be a species of Porpidia; the name means ‘pores in a ring’. The pores are the fruiting bodies – the apothecia – which have been described as ‘like wine gums with margins not the same colour as crust’, distinguishing them from other lichens which have fruiting bodies that resemble small ‘jam tarts with margins the same colour as crust’ (quoted from the FSC Guide to Lichens of Heaths and Moors).
Porpidia crustulata is very common on siliceous rocks, such as this millstone grit, but there are similar species, in fact I think that there might be two species in this photograph, as the larger lichen in the top left corner is different in colour and in the pattern of the pores.
There’s a lush growth of what looks to me like a Parmelia lichen, and I think this is the one known as Crottle, Parmelia saxtalis, a species which has been used to produce a reddish-brown dye.
Grey Crusty Lichen
Finally, growing alongside the crottle but not as lushly is this plain grey crustose lichen. I can’t make out any apothecia on its surface, so no ‘wine gums’, ‘jam tarts’ or ‘golf tees’ to help me here.
I should have gone in closer with the macro setting.
Also on the top of the wall, this moss has white, wiry outgrowths and its reddish-brown sporangia have screwed up, curly stems.
In mosses the stems of the spore capsules are called seta. The bonfire moss, Funaria hygrometrica, is distinctive, with its abundant, swan-neck seta. The British Bryological Society field guide says that this is a common plant that beginners will soon learn to recognise, so I’m pleased to have made a start by identifying it.
Although it is characteristic of old bonfire sites, it will colonise any patch of bare, disturbed nutrient-rich soil. Perhaps here it has colonised a bare patch of the wall top which had initially been colonised by the crottle.
This small orange fungus was growing from a conifer stump near the cladonia lichen. I think that this is Yellow Brain, Tremella mesenterica, a common jelly fungus, which appears as knobbly outgrowths before it grows into a brain-like mass. The field guide tells me that it’s commonly found on gorse, hazel, birch, ash,
beech and other woody species.