Lichen Composite . . . Northeast Oregon / Idaho . .
On the road in the Northwest of America.

Lichens as silent witnesses of times gone by . . .

Lichens are small wonders. They are mutually beneficial
composites of two simpler life forms, a fungus for structure
and an alga for using solar power to synthesize food out of
carbon dioxide and water. Lichens obtain their water and
nutrients from the atmosphere, so they can frequently tell us
much about air quality. Because of all these unique qualities,
lichens can grow, as pictured above, on bare rock. And they
are patient in their growth. About one or two centimeters a
century. Imagine that. So, many of the different colorful
species of lichens here were perhaps present before the dams
on the Snake were built (completed c. 1958). Or even before
the first European Americans arrived. (c. 1805). What stories
they would have to tell. Imagine that!

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008
(created: III.17.2008)