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lichen or moss?

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#1 Andrea B.

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 19:31

I don't know whether this is a lichen or some kind of moss?
I find it in growing on the dirt the shade of Juniper shrubs.

The bottom center of the photo just behind the left-most cactus spine looks like flat black lichen patches. But the other regularly spaced dark clumps appear to have sprouted short grassy stuff.

Attached Image: 610_8224pn01.jpg
Andrea G. Blum
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#2 nfoto

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 20:42

Actually, both categories are inside your frame. Mid centre low is a rock face with crustose lichens. The dark spots are the apothecia ("flowers" if you pardon me using a very vernacular and unscientific name ...). Most of the remainder would be various acrocarpous mosses ("tufted" mosses) with hairy, dried-up leaves. There are literally hundreds of bryophyte genera having such features. Thus no names shall be mentioned. You might soak them in water and have a better look at all the tiny details they provide.

#3 Andrea B.

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 21:33

Ah!

Thank you.

The desert floor is quite fascinating. Although strictly speaking, I don't have a "desert" floor here. It is more of savannah/shrub floor. Desert-y enough, though.

Quite interesting that lichens can grow on the ground. I always had thought of them as growing on rocks or tree trunks or similar. There is a very pretty, bright lime green lichen which I've also seen on the dirt recently.
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#4 Bill De Jager

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 21:51

Andrea, now that you're in an arid to semi-arid region you need to learn about soil crusts if you're not already aware of them: https://www.nps.gov/...-soil-crust.htm They're absolutely fascinating but very easily destroyed by a moment of inattention. I once stepped on some in the Mojave Desert by accident - it went *crunch* and I went "oh no". They might just make really cool photographic subjects, especially when they come to life after a rain.
Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#5 Stefano

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 21:56

So basically it is made in centuries by bacteria?

#6 Bill De Jager

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 22:48

In summary, yes, but this crust is really a whole little ecosystem of many species. I've hardly ever seen it because it only occurs where conditions are favorable. That starts with a drier climate than I live in, but also a favorable substrate and a site history where it hasn't been suppressed or destroyed. Destructive factors include human or animal activity (such as the actions of grazing and burrowing animals) and surface geomorphic processes like heavy water flows and debris movement on slopes.
Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#7 Andrea B.

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 05:09

Bill, thank you for that link to a very fascinating subject. I don't see the lichen/moss combo everywhere, but it certainly seems to be similar to a desert crust although not extensive. I find it here mostly around the large Juniper shrubs where perhaps there is less chance of its destruction. And desert crust certainly explains my finding the lime green lichens growing directly on the ground.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.