Old Man’s Beard

Many of the trees in the Kilmartin and Knapdale areas were bedecked with grey-green growths of lichen – probably Usnea florideana (there a number of closely-related species in this genus so I cannot be more specific).  The sight of Usnea hanging from a tee always brings a smile to my face as it is a species that is very sensitive to air pollution.  Consequently, it is only in remote places such as this that I tend to find it.  I would be interested to see how much it’s distribution has changed over the past 20 years or so.   From a distance, it bears a faint resemble to the Spanish moss that hangs from trees in the Deep South of the USA, although Spanish moss is, actually, a flowering plant, Tilandsia usneoides.  The species name even acknowledges this resemblance.


Interestingly, Usnea has a long history of medicinal use, and contains a potent antibiotic.  The Wikipedia entry on Usnea is quite informative on medicinal uses and, more importantly, is, well-supported with citations, so I don’t have any hesitations about directing you towards this.

There is one more post on Kilmartin to follow shortly.  I made a start on a painting at the end of last week based on the diatoms and Myriophyllum in Kilmartin Glen; however, I was laid low at the weekend by a bug and did not make as much progress as planned.  Next stop for me is a workshop in Berlin, so maybe there will be a post from there before I get this Kilmartin picture finished?

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