Friday, March 2, 2018

Red Lichen

Wandering around in the southeastern part of the United States, I seem to run across all sorts of interesting and unusual plants and few animals. This is Cryptothecia rubrocincta or Christmas Wreath Lichen. Here is a more complete description from the Wikipedia article, "Cryptothecia rubrocincta."
Cryptothecia rubrocincta is a species of lichen in the Arthoniaceae family of fungi. The species is distributed in subtropical and tropical locations throughout the southeastern United States, as well as Central and South America, and has been collected infrequently in a few locales in Africa. The body of the lichen forms continuous, circular crust-like patches on dead wood, readily recognizable by the prominent red pigment. The older, central region is covered with red, spherical to cylindrical granules. Moving outwards from the center, zones of color may be distinguished, the first gray-green, the second white, and finally a bright red cottony rim. The red and green colors of this unmistakable woodland lichen give the appearance of a Christmas wreath, suggestive of its common North American name, the Christmas wreath lichen. The red pigment, called chiodectonic acid is one of several chemicals the lichen produces to help tolerate inhospitable growing conditions.

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