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Lichen harmless on trees, shrubs

Harmless lichens anchors themselves to a dogwood tree. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Harmless lichens anchors themselves to a dogwood tree. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Just the other day at the garden center where I work, a customer came in worried about a fungus that seemed to be growing on the bark of some trees and shrubs.

The markings are lichens, a symbiotic relationship among lichen fungi and two types of algae. They live as one unit anchored to surfaces, but they do not harm woody plants.

Photo courtesy Purdue University.

Photo courtesy Purdue University.

There are 18,000 species of these living organisms found from the North to the South poles, clinging to rocks, lava, trees, the ground, leaves of plants and other surfaces or in frozen substrate. They can be flat, raised, slightly indented or take on a shrub like form.

In this beneficial relationship, the algae pull moisture and other nutrients from the air and use photosynthesis to produce the nutrients needed by the fungi. Throughout the world, lichens come in many colors, but around here, they tends toward green, bluish-green, brown, gray and tan.

Interestingly, in areas with a lot of air pollution, lichens are few or non-existent. For more information about these attractive creations, check out Lichens of North America.

Tree trimming hearings set

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has set public meetings in its investigation of tree-trimming practices by the state’s electric utilities. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from a citizen lobbyist from Indianapolis.

The Utility Consumer Counselor will talk about the process at 5:30 p.m. Monday, followed by the IURC’s public hearing at 6 p.m. at Muncie Central High School, 801 N. Walnut St., Muncie.

In Indianapolis, the information session will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by the hearing at 6 p.m. at Pike High School, 5401 W. 71st St. Future meetings will be posted at the commission’s Web site, or at Trees vs. Power Lines, a citizen lobbyist group.

1 comment to Lichen harmless on trees, shrubs

  • eblogger

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