Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Looking for Lichens in Strathcona Provincial Park

by Keith and Heather Nicol
"Usnea" (Old Man`s Beard) is a common lichen found in the park
     We did a wildflower walk earlier in the summer with the Strathcona Wilderness Institute and really enjoyed that so when we saw that they were offering a lichen identification session on Saturday, August 27 we decided to check it out. These sessions are run out of the Strathcona Wilderness Centre near Raven Lodge at the Mt Washington Ski Area near Courtenay. We were joined by some friends from Campbell River, George and Ellen Wagner and there were others in the group from Parksville and Comox. Margaret Symon was the leader and said at the outset that she was not a lichen expert but had done some research on lichens and was a forester by training so could also point out various trees as we went along. Margaret said that there were many different types of lichens and could be classed into groups such as leaf, crusty, hair, club and several others. 
Trying to identify a lichen
   We had not gone very far down the trail when we came to our first lichens, which most people know as old man’s beard. Margaret mentioned that this was likely “Usnea” and is one of the hair type lichens. She mentioned that First Nations people used different lichens for dyes for clothing and for compresses for cuts. Also birds may use certain lichens for padding nests. We came across lots of different types of lichen but many samples were very dried out from all the warm weather. “Come back in a month and they will look quite different” Margaret told us. “Lichens are also like canaries in the coalmine since they are very sensitive to various types of pollution. They tend to grow in very specific environmental conditions” she added.  These types of guided walks are a perfect way to learn about the sub alpine environment of Strathcona Provincial Park and the Strathcona Wilderness Institute should be congratulated for putting on these informative walks. You can check out more of their offerings at:
We also saw some Reindeer Lichen which eaten by caribou in many parts of the world


No comments:

Post a Comment