Saturday, December 28, 2019

Reindeer Lichen

Looking for a new location to hike, on a gray and misty 27 December 2019, Erika and I discovered the Mima Mounds Nature Preserve, about 10 miles south of Olympia. My photograph does not convey the oddity of this prairie, which is covered by two-meter high mounds. The mounds mystify geologists. Hypotheses for their origin range from insect/soil interactions, gophers, earthquakes, and/or glacial remnants. Stranger yet, many of the mounds are capped by clumps of Reindeer Lichen. Lichen literature is confusing at best. Reindeer Lichen are found, often abundantly, in the northern hemispheres of the world. These may be Pacific Reindeer Lichen, Cladonia portentosa pacifica, a subspecies found nowhere except for three Washington counties. Smith et al. (2012), however, discovered five additional species (= chemotypes) at Mima Mounds.

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