On the Trails: Larcenous lichens and some short stories

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By Mary F. Willson

For the Juneau Empire

A big tide-stranded log on the wetlands was studded with lots of little tufts of “moss.” It didn’t look a bit familiar to any of us, but I should have looked more closely — a couple of experts later let us know that those tufts are not moss at all. Rather, they are composed of one species of lichen growing on another species of lichen.

Juneau folks see lichens almost everywhere—they drape gracefully from tree branches, form crusts over bare soils, decorate tree bark, boulders, and cliffs with a variety of colors and designs. They can colonize roof shingles,

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