Four maybe five different lichen in this shot

What I hadn’t realised until I was attempting to identify the lichen in my pictures, is that lichen are not a single species. Each one is at least two species, usually a fungus and an alga working in partnership. The fungus provides a protective home and the alga produces the sustenance. That is probably why they come in a range of odd shapes and varieties, and why I have failed to identify most of them!

Lichens are sensitive to environmental change and grow slowly, with many requiring undisturbed habitats and clean air. Unsurprisingly therefore they can be found on nearly all the dry stone walls and abandoned buildings in the Algarvian hills, and also on many of the old trees. They love the lack of development as well as the fresh air and sunshine.

Occasionally it is the lichen itself that catches my eye, other times they provide great background. All but one of my photographs were taken in the Algarve, but my Californian Wolf Lichen is not my odd one out. The odd one out is a fungi, have you spotted it yet?

They don’t just add colour to the landscape or act as an environmental guide; they’re also food for animals, nesting material for birds, homes for insects, and scenery for model railways. Some lichens also make great natural dyes, perfumes and even medicine.

The world needs lichen!