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...and in Town

Urban Species and Artificial Substrates

Lichens and bryophytes are most abundant and diverse in relatively unpolluted areas, but that doesn’t mean they are absent from urban areas. However the more polluted the city, the fewer lichens and bryophytes you’ll find there.

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Anzac Parade, Canberra - scene and close-up of paver with crustose lichen Ramboldia petraeoides.The lens cap in the left view marks the location of the lichen.
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The crustose lichen Ramboldia petraeoides.

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The moss Bryum argenteum growing on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
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The yellow lichen Chrysothrix candellaris growing on a suburban power pole in Canberra. This lichen is common on power poles as well as trees. Scattered among the Chrysothrix are small specimens of Flavoparmelia rutidota, a foliose lichen.

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A street sign from Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean decorated with Usnea, a fruticose lichen.

As well as growing on rocks, plants and soil, lichens and bryophytes also grow on artificial surfaces as diverse as bricks, tiles, metal, glass and bones. While some will grow on a range of surfaces in a variety of habitats, others have very specific requirements. For example, the lichens you find on concrete roof tiles you will also find growing naturally on limy soils or rocks. To such lichens limy concrete is no different from limestone. Similarly, quartz and glass are chemically very similar, so quartz-loving lichens will have no problems taking up residence on glass bottles.

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A lichen-covered Morris Minor from the south island of New Zealand.


Q. Is the moss killing my lawn?

A. No. If you have a lot of moss but a poor lawn, then it’s because the general conditions are not good for a lawn — perhaps too dry, too wet or too shaded. If you have a good growth of moss in your lawn, it’s simply because you have created the right conditions for the moss. You can often find thick moss growth in lush, over-watered lawns. The lighter green areas in these pictures is a moss in the genus Sematophyllum which grows very well in lush, well-watered lawns.



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