Is this Cladonia portentosa?

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Fof
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Is this Cladonia portentosa?

Post by Fof »

Hi guys
Up on Zennor Moor, N. coast of West Cornwall, today.
Everywhere is covered with braken, Western Gorse (just coming into flower), Calluna, Erica,+++++
One area, though, was mainly grass. The Ulex, Calluna and Erica were all very small, and amongst them were clumps of what looked and felt like coral.
VERY brittle. I attempted to pick a piece to look at more closely, but it just fell to pieces.
I'm not even sure if it is alive, or just the dried up, "skeletal" remains of something.
I did wonder about ground lichen, which got me to Cladonia, but I don't know.

TIA
Fof
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Neil Sanderson
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Re: Is this Cladonia portentosa?

Post by Neil Sanderson »

Yes

That is a live but dry lichen: they are elastic and bendy when wet but are very brittle and crushed easily when dry (I have no idea what the bio-mechanics behind this is are). Also definitely the Reindeermoss (AKA Riendeerlichen) Cladonia portentosa. The Reindeermosses are easy to spot as a group but it is often rather difficult to pin names on to individuals at times, but this is a classic example of the commonest species in the group. The high numbers of branches at each node and these branches pointing in all directions are the main give aways. The others in the group mostly have the branches tending to point in one direction throughout the thallus and some have smaller numbers of branches.

All the best

Neil
Neil Sanderson
Fof
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Re: Is this Cladonia portentosa?

Post by Fof »

Hi Niel
Thanks for the confirmation.
I very strange "plant".
I guess, as it is rootless, its brittleness is a form of propagation, a bit like the tumbleweeds or the resurrection plant (Selaginella lepidophylla).
Neil Sanderson
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:30 am

Re: Is this Cladonia portentosa?

Post by Neil Sanderson »

Yes, the fragmentation definitely works to propagate it.
very strange "plant".
Yes the lichen version of the concept of "plant" has a lot of flexibility that leads to some surprises, such as occasionally the fungi swapping out for different algae species and hence giving itself a different ecology and appearance and forming, to casual observations (and in a few cases evading quite close observation for sometime), what seems to be a complete different species.

With Cladonia it is a lot of flexibility in the form of the thallus that gives people trying to name them a headache but a high degree of ecological adaptability to the fungus.

Wonderful, if at times perplexing, composite organisms

All the best

Neil
Neil Sanderson
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