Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Sun 23 Jan 2005
This lichen with its upright curly-tipped lobes is either
Peltigera neopolydactyla or P hymenina. The former is supposed to have
dark veins right up to the margin, on the underside, which ours doesn't.
The latter is supposed to have only pale rhizines, while ours has many dark
ones. So I'm playing safe and calling it P polydactyla agg, since the two
used to be regarded as one species under that name.
Sat 29 Jan 2005
The forecast said it would be dry, but it was raining. That's because I'm in Portree, I thought, it will surely be dry a bit further north, and it was. I made for the tree-lined banks of the Hinnisdale River, with lichens in mind.
The perpendicular stalks of Cladonia coniocraea are common on mature
tree trunks. The green patch in the far right of the left-hand picture is
Lobaria pulmonaria. The right-hand pic shows a close-up of the Cladonia.
The grey-green tufts of Ramalina fastigiata are abundant on
trees and bushes all along the riverside. Its stems are completely hollow
and bear the fruit-bodies on their tips. On the right is Dimerella lutea,
growing on an old Gorse stump. The thallus is merely a granular smear
across the substrate, and not likely to be noticed but for the orange (or
sometimes yellow) fruit-bodies which are the most substantial part of the
This apparent encrustation on a Gorse branch turned out to be a liverwort,
Frullania tamarisci. The middle picture shows it in close-up and the final
picture shows its underside through the microscope. Attached to the
underside of each leaf you can see a flask-shaped object close to and parallel
to the stem. This is a pitcher which holds water in which rotifers and
other tiny creatures often occur. There is speculation that a symbiotic
relationship may be involved here, the liverwort providing a secure breeding
place for the creatures but in turn feeding off the remains of dead ones in a
similar manner to Sundews feeding off insects.
A couple of lichens from Hawthorn twigs now. The first
turned out to be the very common species Xanthoria parietina, which is usually a
much richer yellow without any green tinge and is abundant on seaside rocks.
It shows its unsuspected green side when it grows on trees. In the picture
it ranges from yellow to green; the pale blue-green lichen intermixed with it is
a different species. The elegant white-margined lichen on the right is
Physconia distorta. Thanks to Howard Fox for this id, it had me baffled as
the books give no hint that it can ever be green.
Both these respuinate fungi were on burnt Gorse wood. The
first is Phlebia radiata and the second is Peniophora incarnata. Thanks to
Chris Yeates for the first id and Howard Fox for the second.
The burnt Gorse bush also boasted this fine tuft of the Velvet
Shank mushroom, Flammulina velutipes, a species which is frost-tolerant and so
can be found in midwinter when virtually no other mushroom-shaped fungus is to
be seen. Finally, since I have a space left over, this picture shows what
a dull day it was, but even in winter there is so much to see here. It
just takes so long to try and identify it all when you get home!
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer