Interesting stuff: matchstick moss (British soldier lichen)

By Tom Moertel
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Last week I was vacationing with the in-laws in upper Michigan. They live on Lake Huron in a wooded area. One of their neighbors pointed out an unusual growth on a nearby wooden fence: “matchstick moss,” he called it.

Intrigued, I grabbed my camera and tripod and took some pictures.

Man, are these things weird. And tiny. For scale, that’s a woman’s wedding band in the pictures below.

!http://community.moertel.com/~thor/pix/20060707/Cladonia-cristatella.jpg(Cladonia cristatella, British soldier lichen)!

!http://community.moertel.com/~thor/pix/20060707/Cladonia-cristatella-close.jpg(Cladonia cristatella, British soldier lichen, close-up)!

Some recent Googling revealed that matchstick moss not moss at all but rather lichen, in particular “British soldier lichen”, Cladonia cristatella.

Here’s some more information on the fascinating little guys:

Now that’s interesting stuff!

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