To What Shall I Lichen Thee?

Storm over, I emerged from our house to check the mail.  On a sea of sparkling green neath our Chinese elm I found a beautiful lichen attached to a boatlike curl of bark.  I’ve learned to pay attention when things appear at my feet, as if gifted.  So I brought this organism into the house and gave it a place of honor on a paper towel next to my desk.  It dried out, became less green and more gray. Something about it continues to captivate me.


Did you know a lichen is a dual organism?  For mutual benefit, an algae moves in to the filaments of a fungi, producing a tight pair-bond known as lichen!  Lichens grow very slowly indeed and live a really, really long time.  Lichens grow on bark, leaves, mosses … or other lichens. They grow on rocks, walls, gravestones, roofs, dirt … Some estimate that they cover 6% of Earth’s land surface.


Which brings us to the Thicket.

“And further, deep into the thicket.” [Saint John of the Cross]:


Only last week it was reported to me and interested others that 137 species of lichen have been counted in our own neck of the woods, that is to say, the Big Thicket National Preserve. Two of these are new to the state of Texas. Well, new to our awareness, anyway.


Here is my own beauty, resting on a Taxa Tally:


Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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