Posts Tagged Lichen

Ever Greens

Ever Greens . . .

Xmas Moss
(NYC 12 2019)

Brown, white, and gray dominate an outdoor day explored after Solstice past. A setting reminiscent of Poe’s bleak December can get cultivated along the Hudson when the cold rain falls heavy and straight on a still, chilled day. The poet did know the local atmosphere; he wrote the poem here on the west side of Manhattan, after all.

The living color contrast to be found like an ornament nestled deep within the tree are the ever greens, the lichen and the moss. Both plants savor the cold damp days of December and decorate the more sober wood and stone. Their colors are barometric, the verdant reflects well on the health and vigor of the local air and water.

Welcome news, for those who reside here, or visit often to soak up the season’s songs and lights.

Yule Lichen
(NYC 12 2019)

Season’s Greetings . . .

— rPs 12 30 2019

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Lichen the Weather

Lichen the Weather . . .

Lichen in Bloom
(NYC 02 24 2019)

Punxsutawney Phil predicted on February 2nd an early spring. He has been correct but for two spells of clear, cold artic gale.

The freeze left behind the windswept spells softens after just a day or two of damp, soft rain warm enough to compell the morning doves to coo.

The air is crisp, damp, clean, and cool enough for the lichen to flower in the West Village. Ground level, too, starts to stir, sprout, and shoot.

(NYC 02 2019)

(NYC 02 2019)

Winter Spring: a new subseason?

— rPs 02 27 2019

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Autumn Greens

Autumn Greens . . .

November: Impressionist Greens (Lichen & Moss)

The language of autumn so often goes to “russet glows” and ‘the tang” conveyed by the leaves, shed, and drying to curls, colors bright of yellow, orange, and red leading to brown.

November, the fleeting, waning of an Equinox, allows a continuity to the growing season when as wet as has been this year. Look closer to see lingering to lushness of veins of rich green nestled within all this glowing russet bed.

Green in the the moss and the lichen feasting on some of the clearest damp air of the year.

Green is the onion grass bathed by the sunset, light framed and focused by a high line of underglowed cloud stretched across the horizon of the Hudson.

Wildflowers in the West Village.

— rPs 11 30 2018

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February Flowers Green

February Flowers Green . . .

Manhattan Lichen 02 2016

Manhattan Lichen,  Candelariella and Cladonia. (02 2016)

Wind may be heard in the ears on the first afternoon, followed by daylight hours of stillness. Snow melts under scattered showers over a few overcast February days. Water, cold and clean, drips and drops over rocks, down trunks, and brings early green into bloom in Manhattan.

Soft light from a variegated gray sky gives conditions bright for the Lichens, Candelariella and Cladonia. The wash over stones swells cracks as well as sustains the Moss, Leucobryum:

Leucobryum Moss 02 2016

Pin Cushion Moss, Leucobryum, NYC. (02 2016)


Some views are so rendered by nature to appear as Art in itself that should be viewed but not walked upon. Take in a lawn sprinkled with the bristled iron brown fruits of the Sweetgum, Liquidambar, then move along. The Path: the fact, like the philosophy, when followed keeps the pristine that way.

Sweetgum Grove 02 2016

Sweetgum Grove, NYC. (02 2016)


Wet and gloomy, perhaps the middle of Winter can affect some psyche’s in that manner. The difference comes as the following days see a break, often bright and breezy, marking the conclusion of a February rain cycle, as did this one in 2016. Afterward, bedded in oak leaf litter, the Onion Grass, Romulea, stands refreshed, as does the viewer, the person turned away from interior and exterior screens and instead focused on the living open air found outside during February in Manhattan.

Onion Grass 02 2016

Onion Grass in the Oak Leaves, NYC. (02 2016)


– rPs 02 22 2016

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One Day in Bloom

One Day in Bloom . . .

Foliose Lichen in Bloom Manhattan, NYC. (photo taken 02 22 2015)

Foliose Lichen in Bloom
Manhattan, NYC.
(photo taken 02 22 2015)

Sunday. Everyone outside, on the streets, walking, or on park paths, running. One hiking along the tree’s edge of the city met perhaps the first bloom of 2015. One day of sun bracketed by single digits, one day that touched 44 degrees Fahrenheit, still and bright in the air, brought the foliose lichen to bloom.

The leafy thallus of this tough, enduring pant gorged on cold melt from white snow crevices around the trunk. Extended colonies of varying density bloomed in shades of yellow just bright enough to capture my eye, not yet bored with winter brown and white, just happy for the brief broader palate to contemplate.

Mountain and Cloud (photo taken 02 22 2015)

Mountain and Cloud
(photo taken 02 22 2015)

rPs 02 24 2015

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Another Thing to “Like” About the West Village

Another Thing to “Like” About the West Village . . .

Common Greenshield (Flavoparmelia caperata) blooms on a damp maple tree trunk near the corner of Jane St. and Greenwich Ave. (photo taken 04 26 2010)

Two days of April showers have brought on a very different type of flowering along the streets of the West Village. Take note of the tree trunks; many have become wrapped in a variegated pattern of living spring greens ranging from the palest lime to a creamy mint.

This unusual tree decoration is a species of foliose lichen called the common greenshield (Flavoparmelia caperata). When dry, this lichen slumbers in dusty patches that range toward the yellow end of the spectrum. These bloom into thick, flaky, leafy layers of mint green after a day or two of extended rain.

The lichen is not actually a plant, per se. What we see growing on the bark of the living tree is a complex relationship between two organisms: a fungus and green-celled algae. The lichen has no root system, stems, or flowers. The leafy flakes are the matrix of the fungus and the green is the algae residing inside the confines of this living architecture. The literature states that scientists are still not completely sure if this relationship should be technically referred to as Parasitism – where one of the two organisms plays the role of parasite while the other serves as host, or a case of Mutualism – where both species benefit in some manner. Symbiosis does seem to be in full effect, as the fungus provides a habitat and minerals for the algae, which in return through photosynthesis provides nutritious carbohydrates and sugars to both involved.

What is known for certain is that the lichen does not affect the tree in any negative way. The bark merely provides a framework for support. I therefore view this green filigree in a cosmetic way, as an extra layer of verdure to the damp spring cityscape. A close inspection reveals overlapping color fields of painterly green. One can follow this line of aesthetic thought into the realm of fine art and conjure up similarities between the lichen’s natural palette and that of Manhattan’s legacy of Modernist painters. Some lichen growth patterns resemble the abstract expressionist canvases of Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Helen Frankenthaler.

Lichens are a good sign, too, that one is breathing fine air. Lichens of all types are intolerant to air pollution. The presence of these organisms on the garden blocks of the West Village means the air of this neighborhood is some of the best in Manhattan, a claim backed up by the December 2009 report of The New York City Community Air Survey.

My own nose has noted a distinct freshness – a cool, damp quality – to the air as it blows in off the Hudson River. The waterway provides a natural filtering effect before the carrying winds enter the architectural canyons of Manhattan. Conversely, by the time one is strolling along the shops of the East Village, the street has acquired that “urban air” associated with auto exhaust and secondhand cigarette smoke.

There is much to like about the West Village and the lichen, by its very presence, knows this as well. While not a wildflower in the standard definition of the term, the common greenshield has earned a rightful place in the neighborhood’s little pantheon of colorful botanical curiosities.

Common Greenshield (Flavoparmelia caperata) grows on a ginko tree trunk on Leroy Street. (photo taken 04 27 2010)

— rPs 04 26 2010

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