Monday, December 5, 2011

Pink Earth Lichens And Crawling Naturalists

I figured my son would enjoy seeing the Pink Earth Lichens... because they are tiny, colorful, and unique.
You can see we both did, although it was rather hard on our jeans!
   It is worth getting close to the ground for Pink Earth Lichens.
Pink Earth Lichen - Dibaeis baeomyces
   The pink-tipped stalks are the fruiting bodies (apothecia) of the lichen.  They resemble pink miniature mushrooms. The rest of the lichen, the thallus, covers the ground as a crust.
Here is a nose-to-nose picture, and in it there are a few of those "cool" lichens.
One of my boy's comments was, "Wow, once you see them, they are everywhere!"
Now these lichens aren't really everywhere... just in the right habitat within their range.
Pink Earth Lichen - Dibaeis baeomyces
We found these Pink Earth Lichens along an old mountaintop trail in a Pitch Pine/Scrub Oak barrens.
   These soil lichens colonize bare patches of sandy or clayey soil where its tough for other plants to become established.  The crusty pioneers act as soil stabilizers by binding soil particles together with their hyphae.  Some texts refer to these lichens as biological soil crusts. 
In the photo below, the lichen is visible as the whitish-grey/green crusts in patches among the grass.

Here (below) is a photo with a pine needle (far left) and a leaf stem (middle) to give the lichen fruiting bodies some scale.

 Below is a picture of the lichen's fruiting bodies beside some moss and gravel with some kind of sauropod dinosaur (far right) for scale.
Pink Earth Lichen - Dibaeis baeomyces
No really, they are very tiny....much smaller than the moss beside them.
I keep thinking about cotton candy.
Well, at least when I look at these photos.
I don't remember thinking about cotton candy when I was out there lying on the ground marveling at these wee wonders... a Lilliput forest at the edge of a big woods.
The edge of two forests
 Oh, by the way, in areas where the Pink Earth Lichen grows, you might spot people lying on the ground.
Face-to-face with Pink Earth Lichens.
Try it, you'll like it!

Here is a link to another Nature Post with some better
pictures of Pink Earth Lichens growing at a different location.


  1. We found some of the pink earth lichen on a walk last fall. It seemed to growing always on grey, flakey ground. It was fun to look at through a hand-lens. Did your son take your picture Dana ?

  2. Sybil,
    I forgot my hand lens....wish I wouldn't have. We saw some mites, springtails, and other insects on the lichen. They would have been interesting to observe.
    Yes, my son snapped that picture.
    In the picture he took, you can see the grey, flakey ground (that you referred to) concentrated down the middle of the trail. Grey, flakey ground is a good way to describe the lichen crust.

  3. So the pink earth lichen and the "grey, flakey ground" are ONE thing ?

    Your son took a lovely image of you Congrats to him.


    P.S. I only now just realized that I wasn't getting a feed of your responses to my comments and I'm not sure how to set that up. So I'm going through some of your recent posts, realizing that I've missed your informative feedback. Darn.

  4. Sybil,
    Yes, I think we're talking about the same in the photo with all the grass, you can see a patch of grey, flakey ground which is the lichen thallus. In that patch were a few of the pink fruiting bodies.
    My blog's comment setup is a bit clunky. Not sure if it's blogger or my settings. I hope to improve it sometime.