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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

31 January, 2012

Lichen (Cladonia cervicornis)

Despite first impressions, the Dorset heath, particularly here in the Purbeck area where I live, is not the monotinous monoculture of heather and gorse as it first appears. There are varied habitats within even a fairly small area if you look. In places, where the ground is quite bare, lichens grow readily amongst the mosses and that is where you might find Cladonia cervicornis.

According to the expert, Frank Dobson, in his authorative guide 'Lichens: An Illustrated Guide' which is still the foremost book on lichen and first published in 1979 (my copy dates from 1981!) this is "a common species nationally and is common on acid heaths, stabilised shingle, rocks, etc.". Personally I find that a little ambiguous as those habitats are not common nationally so how can a lichen that thrives in those habitats be common nationally?

Anyway, it is not uncommon here and can be found on the peat soils of the heath; on sunny days the reverse side looking quite silvery in the sun.

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Find out more about the nature of Dorset at my website www.natureofdorset.co.uk