Alexis and I have an ongoing challenge for ourselves to find the most urban British soldier lichens in Boston. ("Closest to Boston" was how we were phrasing it.) British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella
) are charismatic lichens with bright red spore-bearing bodies. Lichens in general are not tolerant of air pollution, and so are more rare in urban and industrial places. Some lichen species are more tolerant than others, and the presence of various species and how well they are thriving can be excellent indicators of air quality.
We found some British soldiers near our place in Brookline, and that stands as the closest to the heart of the city so far. The closeness of the Emerald necklace might help air quality in that neighborhood. The lichen community (with some moss and other organisms) pictured above is from the roof of one of the admissions booths at Franklin Park Zoo. This is the first of this species we've found actually in the City of Boston, though the Brookline patch was actually closer to the middle of the City. Using City Hall Plaza as a landmark, the Brookline lichens were 3.1 miles away while the zoo lichens are 4.6 miles out.
Check out this Oregon Public Television clip
about lichens, featuring lj friend omphalina
p.s. First LJ post from the Dedham House!