Friday, 4 December 2020

Lichens and Fungi.



It is often claimed that the best sign of fresh clean air is that of Lichens growing on trees; the more Lichens, the purer the air quality.

Presuming that this observation is correct, I must be living in one of the best air-quality areas in the whole world. Some of our trees are so covered in Lichens, that one can no longer see any bark. The above is a branch of the Greengage tree just outside our front door.

It is also claimed that the first 'plants' to suffer as a result of polluted air are mushrooms; and in particular Girolles and the jet black Trompette de la Mort; both of which are particularly at risk.

2020 has been a bad year here for mushrooms. In spring we had just one meagre picking of Girolles, we had no C├Ępes to speak of. Now in November we are finding very few Hedgehog Mushrooms, and not a single Trompette.

Of course, mushroom growth is dependent on the right amount of rainfall and warmth at the right time, and this is more likely the cause of their rarity this year rather than pollution. Rainfall is certainly a problem, with lakes and rivers being much lower than a decade or so ago. 

When we first moved to the village, at this season I would go out looking for Hedgehog Mushrooms with a huge basket. It was always quickly filled, and I would go out again as soon as I'd unloaded them. The merchant came to the house every other day, and he never left without several kilos. I have just returned from the woods with nothing.


31 comments:

  1. When mother stayed with us she complained about the amount of lichens on our trees and said it would never be like that in England.

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    Replies
    1. I certainly don't remember English trees being quite as covered as they are here.

      Delete
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  2. Maybe the colder? English weather restricts the lichen growth.

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    Replies
    1. There are plenty of them, but possibly not quite like here. Ours seem excessive.

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    2. Lichens are prevalent in Arctic regions. In comparison, England is almost tropical.

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  3. I'd send you some of our rain if I could. Our air is reasonably pure and in the Stornoway woods the lichens are rampant.

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    Replies
    1. We had plenty of wind and rain last night. Maybe some Hedgehog mushrooms will now appear.

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  4. It is MANY years since I last saw a Hedgehog mushroom and I can remember exactly where (yet I can't remember what I did yesterday, half the time!!)

    Here in Wales, we have lichens on the trees, and ferns growing from the branches and I have always been told it is a sign of pure air too.

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    Replies
    1. Hedgehog mushrooms are one of my wife's favourites, so she's even more upset than I am that we have none.

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  5. Yes, you're right Cro, lichens are an indication of pure air. Which is why you have a lot there, and there are a lot in Scotland. They're not particularly bothered by heat or cold either, since they grow very well in the arctic as well, 'Reindeer Moss' is in fact a lichen.

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  6. Looking at your branch I can see at least three different types of lichen on it.

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    Replies
    1. I know nothing of lichen varieties, but there are some very 'bushy' ones around. They are like mini trees in themselves.

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  7. Did you sing a little ditty when you skipped into the woods with your basket in those mushroom picking days of yore?
    O tra-la, tra-lee
    I'm feeling so gay
    Off to pick mushrooms
    Hip hip hooray!

    Perhaps you are witnessing the effects of climate change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect it's the mushroom pixies who are gathering them all before I get there. We had quite some rain last night, so maybe next week there'll be a few around.

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  8. For years, we would feed the birds with seed in bird feeders and fat balls but, we have stopped now as, we feel that our garden provides lots of food for the birds and we have so many birds in our garden. The reason I'm saying this is because, all of our tree, of which there are quite a few, are covered in lichen and we watch the birds feeding on it. We are in Hertfordshire but only 20 minutes from London and yet have so much lichen and moss. I wonder if your son in Bishops Stortford has lichen seeing that he isn't far from me ? Could it be that our back garden faces North .... although, our front faces South and we still have loads of moss on the drive ? XXXX

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    Replies
    1. My son is now in Essex, by way of Kensington. He moves quite often. His present garden is quite small; more of a large terrace; I don't think he has any large trees.

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  9. Philippe, our neighbour, knew exactly where to go in the woods to find mushrooms but it wasn't a secret he ever shared with anyone.

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    Replies
    1. We all have our secret locations, but this year has been very bad for all mushrooms. Maybe next year... but I remember saying that two years ago.

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  10. I have envied your mushrooms ever since we started blogging together - sorry about this year.

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    Replies
    1. It's something we look forward to so much, that it's very disappointing when nothing appears. There's always next year (Brexit allowing).

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  11. I can't help wondering if it's permanent when there are fewer butterflies, less snow, hardly any flies on the windscreen, and so on.

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    Replies
    1. I fear it might be. Wildlife has difficulty in regenerating itself. Life's great circle.

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  12. The people closest to the earth are always the first to see that she is suffering, but they are never listened to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And important decisions are mostly made by urban politicians.

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  13. I have many here and much like that picture.

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  14. Lichen on a tree often indicates an unhealthy or dying tree caused by other reasons, such as pests or disease. Several trees on my property had lichen on them and they also hosted ant colonies and some rot. When one of these trees blew over in a storm (fortunately just missing my home), I had the rest cut down and removed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The particular tree in my photo is an ancient Greengage. She has all sorts of problems; a rotting trunk, constantly dying branches, and of course the lichens. However, she gives us plenty of Greengages every year, and they are delicious.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh, that's such a dramatic fall in mushroom numbers! So much change everywhere with dwindling numbers and absences in birds, insects and fungi, it would seem. Hopefully this is just cyclical, and a year not too far off will come along where you see things pick up again.

    ReplyDelete

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