Alaskan Lichen PhotoEssay

Call me busy, lazy, or what you will, but I am finally getting around to sharing some of those interesting lichens and other sights from my hike in the Tongass Rainforest.

This is the view from the near the trailhead where we started. The water here is actually part of the Pacific Ocean – I believe the George Inlet.

One of the first interesting plants we came across were these Dwarf Dogwoods. A groundcover, they are also called Bunchberry, and they are edible. Fairly tasty too! We also saw lots of wild blueberries in their natural habitat – a very acidic muck soil.

Skunk cabbage – technically edible and good as a laxative if you are in need of it. Apparently it is a favorite of bears coming out of hibernation in the spring, although we saw a large patch that had been enjoyed by the bears much more recently.

Our guide called this Scrambled Egg Fungus. It kind of looks like scrambled eggs, and apparently if you fry it over a fire, it rather tastes like scrambled eggs too.

This is a type of lungwort lichen. (There are many different types.) It is on a bed of moss that is growing on a fallen log.

This is a stairstep moss. It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but the “leaves” grow like stairs above each other. Each “step” is one year of growth. Our guide said that the oldest they have found is 15 steps high.

This moss-covered fallen log is sprouting licorice ferns. The licorice ferns are edible as well – surprise, surprise, they have a licorice scent and flavor.

This is probably my favorite lichen that I saw on the hike. The grey green lichen with the red cap is called “British Soldier” lichen. Too bad that grass blade cot in the way of my picture!

Most of the fallen trees in the old growth forest become nursery logs. New tree seedlings begin to grow, using the moisture, nutrients, and boost up to the sunlight to get them started. Eventually, the old tree decays and the roots from the trees on the nursery log reach the ground.

This is a type of lichen called Witches’ Hair. It’s presence indicates very pure air quality.

This cute little plant is a tiny relative of the Venus Flytrap. I didn’t catch it’s name, because I was too busy taking pictures!

The midpoint of our hike was at this river, which is inhabited by salmon at this time of year. We saw a couple of bald eagles, plenty of seagulls, jumping salmon, but no bears. Oh well!

Almost everything was covered with some type of moss or lichen. The intricacy of the ecosystem in a temperate rainforest is pretty cool!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on September 22, 2011, in PhotoEssays. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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