WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Aug 10th, 2012

Matchstick Lichen – Cladonia cristatella

Aug 10

AKA: British Soldiers

matchstick lichen - Cladonia cristatella

These were growing in what you might call a hostile environment. A sand and gravel bank created by glacial deposit doesn’t provide much to live on. About the only thing living on this landscape was moss and lichens. The moss was bone dry after a prolonged ‘drought’ and I could both hear and feel it crunch under my moccasins. How alive the moss is could be debated but there were hints of green here and there. I’m sure it will revive after it cools down and we get some decent rain.

I know of no other area like this when it comes to matchstick lichens. Usually I find them here and there, never in such great numbers and covering so large a space as I found them here. I actually has to watch my step to keep from stepping on them.

Several scattered pieces of dry wood had lichens growing on them but I found only one that rated on my cuteness scale. A bit of deer moss (really a lichen – Cladonia sp.) growing alongside the matchsticks in a knothole created a cute mini garden that looks like it came from another planet.

Lichen my miniature knothole garden
lichen miniature garden

How cool is that? A handful of garden that I don’t have to weed. All I need to do is place in where it will get plenty of sun and clean air. I’m thinking of transplanting another mysterious (I have no clue of the name) lichen to make the garden even more alien looking.

WIGNIT* Lichen
unidentified lichen

Fairy Fountains

They look like tiered fountains to me. Now all I have to do is figure out how to drill a hole through the ‘stems’ and find a really teeny tiny fountain pump and I’m in business.

I Googled ‘fairy fountain lichen’ and nothing relevant came up. I posted the above photo on G+ hoping someone might be able to properly identify it. Regardless of the scientific name I am declaring the common name to be Fairy Fountain Lichen – or not

Happy me, I’ve named something that just might catch on. Wait a couple of days for this post and image to be indexed and I’ll be an authority on the web
🙂 If you see it on the internet
it must be true.

I’d consider harvesting some of these for arts and crafts people that create Fairy Habitats but do not want to destroy the only colony on this planet known to me.

If I ever get an answer on G+ I’ll come back and edit the post to include the scientific name. Until then the unofficial classification will have to remain:

*What in God’s Name Is That


10 Responses

  1. rainfield Says:

    Your British Soldiers are coming back.

  2. Cindee Says:

    I have never seen match stick lichen before. That is so pretty. I love the little knothole garden(-; The fairy fountains are very interesting as well although not as colorful as the matchsticks(-: Thanks for sharing. I hope you find out the name of the fairy fountains but I like that name so hopefully it sticks(-;

  3. Randy Says:

    The knot hole garden is way cool, like an oasis in a desert. No ideal what the other one is?

  4. Donna Says:

    Love the little garden. It really looks like an alien surface, like from the movie Avatar.

  5. sharkbytes Says:

    Wow- I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that either. That is WAY cool. Are we connected on G+? Your closeups have such awesome definition. You must have a better camera than I have (not difficult to achieve)

  6. sharkbytes Says:

    Believe it or not, I just found the mystery lichen in Michigan Lichens by Julie Jones Medlin. It is Cladonia verticillata- wedding cake lichen. She says it’s common in MI- guess I’ll have to pay attention. It says the cups lack soredia but often have squamules on the stems. Alrighty then!

  7. sharon Says:


  8. Tammie Says:

    your photos are awesome and i like your name for it. i love fairy this and fairy that, such a the tiny and lovely scented Fairy Slipper; Calypso orchid.

  9. L. L. Wall Says:

    Western Maryland 1950’s, walking home from school, instead of on the dirt country road, we would hike through struggling oak scrub on a south-facing shale hillside (mostly dry rock, little dirt, no humus; sun blasted Summer and Winter). The whole slope was just covered with red-top matchstick and deer-antler lichens. Youth is wasted on the young, because a few years later the whole hillside was bulldozed for a big new highway. Also bulldozed/channelized was a nearby meandering sycamore lined creek: swimming holes, trout pools and all … Just for a re-routed highway …


    I demolished an old pond deck and a few pieces of the decking boards had some lichens ( matchstick, british soldier ? ) on them. I brought them home. How do I maintain them?

    Lichens aren’t something I bring home so I’m not really able to answer with authority.
    Best bet is to place the board in as close to the same environment – sun and moisture
    They are in the reproductive stage when you find the red tops. Whether they survive or not is a good question. They will persist for a long time though.