What is a lichen? Well, according to Irwin Brodo, Sylvia and Stephen Sharnoff in their book, Lichens of North America, “lichens are a composite of a fungus and an organism capable of producing food by photosynthesis.” But that’s complicated. What you need to know is that lichens are diverse, colorful, and absolutely beautiful!
Lichens are everywhere in the Northwest, and you can collect your own to grow in your home terrarium! (Be sure to follow the federal and state rules and regulations, no one wants a fine for collecting plants illegally.) Lichens are slow growing, and relatively fragile, so be careful while collecting, transporting, and transplanting.
Here is how you can collect coveted lichen and bring it home with you!
1. Use a spray bottle to mist the lichen or poor a little bit of water directly onto it. It is much easier to collect lichen when it is wet without damaging it.
2. Break off a small piece of the lichen. They are incredibly slow growing, so get enough for your terrarium, but be sure to leave some so that it can reproduce in its natural environment.
3. Put your lichen into a paper bag to transport it. Be sure to fold the top of the bag over to keep it from drying out. If you have a long journey, be sure to mist it regularly to keep it moist and healthy.
4. Place the lichen on a moist rock, small piece of wood, or directly on the surface of your terrarium. Over time (a lot of time) it will grow and spread.
5. Once your terrarium is complete spray the lichen regularly to keep it moist. It needs moisture to continue growing and repopulating.And now, some pictures to inspire your new love of lichens.