Lichens, Moss and Fungi




What can you see growing on rocks and trees and on the ground in the woods? If you look carefully at the branches and bark of trees, or at their base, and if you look carefully on rocks or at the ground in shaded areas, you can probably find some sign of these special organisms.

Lichens, Moss and Fungi existed in the world before there were true plants. These are sensitive to changes in the environment, and so environmental students like to look for them and notice their type and condition.

Lichen are often the first larger organisms to appear on a rock. Sometimes one kind of lichen grows on top of or beside another. Moss can start right on the top of lichens. Fungi grow where there is organic material to decompose, in old dead wood, for example.

Trouble signs:

In areas where the air is healthy there are many different kinds of lichens and mosses. Lichen in a healthy countryside can be leafy, bushy, or "thready", and not simply flat and crusty.

Lichen and moss in cities may only be tiny colored spots on stone or sidewalks. When moss and lichen are injured by poisons in the air, they turn white at the edges or tips, lichens turn white also in the center, and they stop growing.


Activity Steps:
Take five or ten minutes to look at the guide books, if they are available, so you can recognize these growing organisms.

2. Sketch your findings and enter them in the sheet below.

3. Place a check next to the entry if it is a kind. different from those entered before it.










Summarize Your findings:

Where did you find most of the Lichen?


Where did you find most of the Moss?


Where did you find most of the Fungi?


How many different kinds of lichens did you find?

How many different kinds of moss did you find?

How many different kinds of fungi?


Consider: How might these materials be used by other living beings in their habitat? (For example, reindeer love to eat lichen!) See Lichens and Animals [] for hints about how animals use lichens

Extension: If taking some moss does not substantially damage your research areas, build Moss Terrariums. Discover the moss's range of tolerance by changing the light, temperature and moisture. (suggested by Shirley Griffin, teacher, Ashburnham, MA)

Lichens of the Miller Springs Nature Center. Magnificent pictures. []

Fun with Lichens Lichen identification, lots of educational materials. []

Lichens - More good pictures []

Fungi -

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