Lecanora chlarotera. Photo: Andy Harmer

Sunday 8th December was a day of returns; the return to the excellent Norton Priory venue, the return of the Lichen Event, and the welcome return of Mike Gosling, who morphed for the puposes of this event from bryologist to lichenologist.

Mike tells us about fruits and spores

Mike soon got into his stride by making us face up to the cruel truth of Cheshire’s standing in the clean air league, and explained how air quality is crucial to lichen diversity.  He gave us hope with some facts that showed the massive improvements in air quality in recent decades.  The attendees then were treated to a powerpoint presentation and showed images of various types of lichen and habitat before learning about the various structures and their relationship with the little green algal friend, the photobiont.  We learnt that certain substrates are important as anchor points, but are only favourable if they provide what the lichen needs such as moisture, nutrients, porosity and correct amount of light and shade.

Xanthoria parietina showing drab colour form that results from growing in shade. Photo: Andy Harmer

Mike showing members the way to do field ID of Lichens.

After lunch, the fieldwork got underway, seeking out pollution-tolerant lichens such as Xanthoria parietina,Physcia tenellumP. adscendens and Lecanora chlarotera, as well as the powdery leprose lichen Lepraria incana.  The bridge over the motorway provided some good specimens of the ‘chewing gum’ lichenLecanora muralis, and the trees in the car park came under close scrutiny, revealing some beautiful foliose lichens such as Parmelia saxatilisHypotrachyna revoluta and Melanelixea glabratula. After Mike fielded questions on all things licheny we headed for a cup of tea and pysched ourselves up for some microscopy. The microscope session was used to look at lichens that Mike had prepared, and we happily keyed out lichens under the watchful eye of the tutor until we wrapped up around four oclock.

A big thanks to Mike who led the day, Paul Quigley who looked after our needs, and Norton Priory venue and staff for use of their superb site.