Carpet of Lichen, Culbin

I think I was last in Culbin in 2007 competing in an orienteering event. Today I had more time to look around. Culbin is a man made forest, of Scots and Corsican pines, planted in the 1930s to stabilise sand dunes which had on several occasions inundated man’s attempts to farm and inhabit the area.

Lichens are slow growing and delicate but can withstand drought or heavy rain. In Culbin they are quite happily growing as a carpet on the forest floor. I think this is reindeer lichen or Cladonia rangiferina but lichens are difficult to identify. As the name implies Cladonia rangiferina is an important food source for reindeer and caribou.

Lichens are actually two separate organisms: an algae living alongside a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. In some parts of the world it is used as a food and as a folk remedy for various ailments. It is also used as a dye in the colouring of fabrics.

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