Patio Patrol

In close-up, this paved area at the end of Barbara’s brother’s South Ossett garden is a miniature landscape; a sun-baked plateau dissected by a network of canyons. Brown ants patrol the edges of a dense forest of mosses.

Moss is still green in the crevices but on the surface of the concrete paving slabs, it’s dried up. White whiskers give the clump a little protection from the direct glare of the sun.

Spore capsules of the mosses are like pepper-pots on wiry stalks. One (left) has split open, leaving the teeth around the rim splayed out, like the petals of a miniature daisy.

Spots, Stains and Splatters: Crustose Lichens

There are a few spots of a dirty yellow crustose lichen on the concrete. It’s dotted with orange sporangia, each with a narrow yellow rim.

This black crustose lichen looks like little more than a tar stain on the concrete but my macro photograph reveals a surface cracked like dried mud.

A white lichen looks like splatters of paint. In close-up almost every individual scale in the colony is dotted with a small depression, perhaps the lichen’s spore-producing body.

I’m guessing that the single orange sporangium is a different species of lichen – probably the yellowish species – that has become engulfed by the white one.

Bluebottles and Bumblebees

When I drew these a month ago on 11 June the temperature was climbing to 34°C, 92°F, in this sunny corner, so insects were active. A half-size version of a bluebottle touched down while a small marmalade-coloured bumblebee visited the white clover at the edge of the lawn.

I was soon adopted as an extension of the habitat by a small brown spider which climbed over me.

Sycamore Seeds

Apart from the squirrel-nibbled cone, which is from Nostell, I picked up these seeds and the lichen and the snail shell on a mossy tree-fringed lawn in Ossett.

Some of the sycamore seeds had begun to sprout while all that was left of the lime seed was the pair of wings that propelled it through the air.

The lichenXanthoria parietina, would normally be yellow but it turns greenish when it grows in shade. The insides of the spore-producing cups – the apothecia – have kept their colour.

Crusty Lichen

crustose lichensporangia10.30 a.m.: At first sight this crustose lichen looks like nothing more than a pale stain on the sandstone block at the edge of the raised bed behind the pond. I’m using crayons this morning and the nearest match that I can get is mineral green, applied very lightly with a dash of other colours added. Using watercolours I would have got nearer to the grey in my photograph.

The black oval sporangia* are about a millimetre across.

crustose lichenA neighbouring colony of the same lichen is more densely peppered with sporangia and they appear to me to have a slight brownish cast, like coffee grounds.

I find the details easier to take in on my macro photographs than in real life but peering closely I notice a springtail wandering by. The springtail is a hexapod and it is no longer classified as an insect. Continue reading “Crusty Lichen”