Devil's Matchsticks Lichen (Cladonia floerkeana)
Despite being sensitive to air polution lichens are one of our most diverse and widespread life forms and whilst declining in eastern areas they still strive in the west and here in Dorset there are many of them.
Lichens are specialists. Some species use rocks, walls, roof tiles and gravestones as their substrate, others prefer wood and colonise tree trunks and branches, fence posts and wooden buildings. There is also a family of lichen, the Cladonia species where some members colonise bare ground and this one, Cladonia floerkeana is one of those.
Supposedly common on peaty soils on moors and heaths I have only found it once on the Dorset heath but there is quite a lot of heath in Dorset to look at so I am sure I have often missed it.
This species has thin stems with bright red spore producing tips giving them the appearance of matches, hence the common name of Devil's Matchsticks!
Find out more about the nature of Dorset at my website www.natureofdorset.co.uk