September 29th, 2022 - British Soldier Lichen
Getting Hands on in the Hammond: Featured Species
British Soldier Lichen!
This bright and whimsical lichen is a delight to spot throughout our watershed. Lichens are fascinating
things and are the result of an intricate relationship between a fungus and an alga (or a cyanobacterium). Lichens are named for their fungal partner, so British soldiers are scientifically called Cladonia cristatella. This fungus has a symbiotic relationship with the alga called Trebouxia erici. Both the fungus and the alga of a lichen rely on the other for survival. The fungus garners food from the alga’s photosynthesizing, and in return, the fungus, which typically sandwiches the alga in a lichen, provides
structure, water retention, and protection from bright sunlight. Neither fungus nor alga would survive well on its own, but together they create some marvelous lichens – like British soldiers.