Lichen

Satellite dishes; fairy proportions
Growing in bunches just like mistletoe.

Spreading on branches; shapes ever changing
Fruticose beings of many a hue.

Mutualistic or parasitic;
Not plant; not fungus; a freak of the world
An ancient species long lived and thriving?
Better than humans pollution they’ll find.
Found in abundance, throughout all the world
On branch; on stone; on building or playground

Alien species? Where did they come from?
Keeping their watch from wherever they sit.
Brooding; plotting to take over our world?
Look out behind then; they’re growing near you.

Poem and photo by Englepip© copyright

Lichen are some of the strangest growing things in the world. The oldest in the Arctic is said to be about 8600 years old, the world’s oldest organism, and they probably grow only 1mm a year, depending where they are. They come in many different shapes and forms and even change their shapes and colours as they grow. The more I read about them, the more ubiquitous I realised they were and I began to imagine them lurking and waiting to take their turn in taking over the world! Terrifying.

The following words about lichens are from Wikipedia. “Many lichens are very sensitive to environmental disturbances and can be used to cheaply[8] assess air pollution,[47][48][49] ozone depletion, and metal contamination. Lichens have been used in making dyesperfumes,[50] and in traditional medicines. A few lichen species are eaten by insects[8] or larger animals, such as reindeer.[51] Lichens are widely used as environmental indicators or bio-indicators. If air is very badly polluted with sulphur dioxide there may be no lichens present, just green algae may be found. If the air is clean, shrubby, hairy and leafy lichens become abundant. A few lichen species can tolerate quite high levels of pollution and are commonly found on pavements, walls and tree bark in urban areas. The most sensitive lichens are shrubby and leafy while the most tolerant lichens are all crusty in appearance. Since industrialisation many of the shrubby and leafy lichens such as RamalinaUsnea and Lobaria species have very limited ranges, often being confined to the parts with the purest air.”

Such an interesting organism.

The Yew

Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may now be known as common yew, English yew, or European yew.’ Wikipedia

Needles of toxicity
Hardened death bringer
But Celtic resurrector.

There are many myths surrounding the Yew tree. It is one of the most lon lived trees around and its wood is very dense and therefore good for things like furniture making. Yet every part except the fleshy part of the fruit is toxic to humans (although you would have to eat over 50 – 100 grams!). Some animals do not seem to get poisoned by eating yew.

There was tree in the graveyard at Selborne, Hampshire UK, which was reputedly about 1400 years old. Its girth was 26 feet. Unfortunately it fell in a gale in 1990 and did not recover.

The trees are evergreen although the needles do fall at times of the year. There are male and female trees and in the early Spring the male ‘flower’ send out clouds of pollen. The berries are not real berries but form small red fleshy blobs on the female trees.

Celtic mythology links the tree to both death and resurrection. This idea builds on the ancient Norse tradition of Yggdrasil, which in turn links back to the ancient world-wide stories of the Tree of Life or Tree of Knowledge.

References: https://www.ancient-yew.org/s.php/frequently-asked-questions/2/2 : https://www.hampshire-history.com/the-great-yew-of-selborne/:https://www.backyardnature.net/yew.htm