En route today to Archbald Pothole State Park to look for ‘shrooms and friends in the forest undergrowth I was delayed by several treasures in St. Francesco Cemetery in Eynon, Pennsylvania. While there I spotted a genuine wonder (figure 1) which was very much in the spirit of my larger quest.
It was clear from the red dots that I had something interesting, and when I blew the image up about five times (figure 2), yes, I discovered a world in a tree stump. I am no lichenologist (mycologist? who has authority over lichens?), but I see several different forms of lichen here. The showpiece is the red cladonia cristatella fruiting bodies. The bushy one is ‘fruticose’, the leafy one ‘foliose’, and the little cups (many kind of squashed here) are called apothecia. If you haven’t expended your best years studying Greek and Latin, those words mean ‘bushy’, ‘leafy’, and ‘storehouses’, respectively. Oh, and the crusty lichens are ‘crustose’.
Some will know this, but even those who don’t will be unsurprised to discover that cladonia cristatella goes by the alternate name ‘British soldiers’, because of course it does.