I was fascinated by Lichens from the time I was little, but didn't know just how neat they were until I was older and read about them. A Lichen is a composite organism that is made from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) and lives among the filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The combined life form has properties that are very different from the properties of its component organisms. Lichens come in many colors, sizes, and forms. The properties are sometimes plant-like, but lichens are not plants. may contain the word moss, as in "Reindeer Moss", and lichens may superficially look like and grow with mosses, but lichens are not related to mosses or any plant. Lichens do not have roots that absorb water and nutrients as plants do, but like plants they produce their own food by photosynthesis using sunlight energy, from carbon dioxide, water and minerals in their environment. When they grow on plants, they do not live as parasites and only use the plants as a base upon which to live.
Lichens occur from sea level to high alpine elevations, in a very wide range of environmental conditions, and can grow on almost any surface. Lichens are abundant growing on bark, leaves, mosses, on other lichens, and hanging from branches "living on thin air in rain forests and in temperate woodland. They grow on bare rock, walls, gravestones, roofs, exposed soil surfaces. Just downright amazing little creatures.
We have many different kinds that grow here in addition to the one pictures above that grows on the dying maple tree in the front yard (they were planted when the house was built, or shortly after so are well over 100 years old). Here are a few more from my photo archive that are also relatively abundant here in the hollow. Thanks to Wikipedia for the basic information above.
Want more info? Check out http://ohiomosslichen.org/