Nature Unknown

IMG_1210_UNKYour assignment for today is to ID this creature from forest, seashore or stream bottom. At least you should classify it to a general group of living things.

More detail is possible, and it is quite interesting the ways this creature works in nature as well as in human economy and health.

Leave your guesses in comments, and mine is that somebody will know it right off. Prove me right.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Comments & Identifications
    Not so easy an ID. Below are the comments when I posted the picture on

    Your ID: Ramalina fastigiata
    Posted by you 22 days ago

    th0th’s ID: Rock Bushy Lichen (Ramalina intermedia)
    Based mainly on the range maps. R. fastigiata is more common in the U.K and Ireland.
    Posted by th0th 20 days ago

    Your ID: Rock Bushy Lichen (Ramalina intermedia) Remove
    Posted by you 20 days ago

    tom_carlberg’s ID: Beard Lichens (Genus Usnea) Agree?
    Hi – Ramalina intermedia is a stringy lichen, like the one in the photo, but doesn’t develop those circular structures with the weird tendrils coming off of them, and only grows on rock. This is a species of Usnea, and the disks are apothecia, where the fungal partner in the symbiosis gets to produce spores (too bad for the alga!).
    Posted by tom_carlberg 4 days ago

  2. Usnea is correct, and it has a lot of interesting natural history stories–except when a blogger’s ankles are being gnawed by a 10 month old. This is not a figure of speech, I assure you, and I have the soggy sox to prove it. So many for another time, more about Usnea.