British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)


This is a species of lichen that grows pretty prolifically in my woods. In particular (or specifically, ha ha), it is British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella).
I took this picture yesterday when I was out finishing up the evergreens. I guess this is an evergreen too, but I have not heard that term applied to non-flowering plants, so maybe it doesn’t apply here either.

British soldier is so named because of the red “hats” on the lichen’s “head.” Also, they tend to grow in colonies, where they look like a British regiment.

Another non-flowering plant I photographed this week is some sort of liverwort (I think). I find liverworts incredibly challenging to identify – to the point that I am never clear as to whether I’m looking at a liverwort or a lichen.

Liverwort?

Liverwort?


I have done some reading on liverworts, and that’s what makes not knowing for sure if this really is one even more maddening. But the name is easy enough. “Liver” refers to that organ in your body, and “wort” means plant. It is so named because it is shaped somewhat like the liver, and back in the day, people thought that if your liver was ailing, you should use a medicine derived from a plant that looks like a liver. In reality, liverwort is not an efficacious treatment for any liver ailments. But it was named back in the day when blood-letting was a common practice too.

So… it’s not like I don’t know anything about liverwort. It’s just that the things I know about it are obsolete! If anyone knows of a good field guide covering liverworts, I’d love to hear about it.