Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cryptogammic Soil Crust

You may have to not only open this picture, but zoom in a little to see the soil. This is one of the better pictures I have of cryptogammic soil crust. This dark brown growth is alive and is one of the strangest of the desert phenomena. It is an association between algae, lichen, mosses, and fungi. See Wikipedia:Cryptobiotic soil. This soil is a good example of how much you can miss while walking anywhere unless you are educated enough to realize what you are looking at. When I was living in the jungle, I learned that it took a long time before you could see anything. When I first arrived, the jungle looked like a solid green wall. After a couple of years, it looked all different colors, browns and greys and blacks. This soil in the desert is like that. Casual visitors never know what they are missing.


  1. We used to have a lot of this stuff in AZ, but it was destroyed by traffic from people, cattle, etc. The cryptobiotic soil takes a long time to form, but just seconds to destroy. Where it's present, it holds the soil down. Loss of vegetation and cryptobiotic soil is one of the reasons we get the killer haboobs these days.

  2. We tend to see eye-catching things more and miss the discreet ones. As you mention, education is an important key not to miss them.