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Enjoying Nature!

We had a gorgeous Saturday in my neck of the woods.  It was sunny and 70 degrees.  I spent the day doing a cemetery clean up project with a local ladies group.  My high school aged daughter joined us, and I enjoyed spending the lovely day out of doors with my daughter and friends.  We raked up many months worth of magnolia leaves from our local historical cemetery.

As we raked, I discovered a very pretty patch of bracket fungi....


The bracket fungi are also called shelf fungi.  They belong to the phylum Basidiomycetes, along with the mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, jelly fungi, smuts and rusts.  Shown in the photos are the fruiting bodies.  They are generally tough and sturdy and produce their spores within pores of the fruiting body.  Most shelf fungi, like many of the fungi, are decomposers, and can easily be found growing on dead trees and other dead plant matter. Other shelf fungi are parasitic, and grow along the sides of living trees.



Also spotted were some lovely lichens growing on the sides of some very old trees.  Lichens are composite organisms.  Two species live together in a lichen in mutualistic harmony.  One of the organisms is a photosynthetic alga, and the other is a species of fungus.  The alga carries out photosynthesis and provides the fungus with food.  The fungus has the ability to absorb water, and provides the algae with an adequate water supply.


Lichens can be found in nearly every habitat on earth.  They are particularly susceptible to environmental changes and are often an indicator of air pollution in an area.  If the lichens are not thriving, there is sure to be a reason.  Lichens are also used to make dyes and perfumes.






2 comments:

christy said...

Love this! My kids, ages 3 and 4, ask about these things, but I'm struggling to know how to even look up something when I only know what it looks like. Do you have suggestions?

Amy Brown Science Stuff said...

It is hard to identify things if you don't have some sort of starting point. I can usually place it into a large group and then through a lot of goggling eventually figure out what it is. You can also leave a comment here if you need some help! Thanks for stopping by.