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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!

18 September, 2016

Cladonia uncialis: a reindeer lichen

I have been used to seeing lichen in amongst the heather out on the Dorset heaths and wrongly assumed they were all the reindeer lichen, Cladonia portentosa, but I was wrong! It is not rare for me to be wrong but I still try to learn a little each day. In addition to portenosa there is this one, Cladonia uncialis. 
Although closely related and quite similar in appearance if you take the trouble to look you will notice that Cladonia uncialis has thin, fibrous strands whereas portentosa has wider and and more 'flowery' strands. That is not a good description but I cannot think of more suitable words without calling on the rather complex scientific language that surrounds lichen.
Cladonia uncialis is common on the heaths and is quite often in damp areas or even in wetter bogs, portentosa prefers things a bit drier.
Cladonia uncialis: a reindeer lichen