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John Cousins (February)

Winter is not the most obvious time to start looking for plants but once you stop searching for flowering plants you begin to realize there is plenty to see. This branch of an oak tree behind the Pinnacles is host to multiple lichens. There are at least two distinct kinds visible in the picture: one that looks quite âÂ.Â.shrubbyâÂ.Â. and the other rather âÂ.Â.leaf likeâÂ.Â.. On britishlichens.co.uk there is a great picture gallery and sure enough thereâÂ.Â.s a category called Fruiticose (shrubby) and one called Foliose (leafy). There are even more exotic crusty, flaky and powdery categories, which look quite challenging to identify but are worth looking at just for the beautiful colours.

The shrubby lichen in my picture is a Cladonia of some kind but IâÂ.Â.m not so sure what the leafy one is. Cladonia seems to come in many shapes and sizes and includes classic âÂ.Â.DevilâÂ.Â.s matchsticksâÂ.Â. and âÂ.Â.Reindeer MossâÂ.Â.. We donâÂ.Â.t see too many Reindeer in the Carneddau and the sheep and goats appear to leave the plant alone so there is plenty of it about. The sheep have obviously heard that it is very low in protein and the poor Reindeer (and Caribou) have to metabolise muscle to maintain their diet until more nutritious plants emerge.

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