Monday 20 February 2012: Bracket in a powderhorn jungle
On a dull afternoon my eye was caught by a tree stump covered with green-grey lichen from which emerged these tiny worm-like tendrils apparently menacing a brown slug. Closer inspection revealed that these were the podetia, the stalks that bear the spore-producing cells, of Cladonia coniocraea, a common foliose (leafy) lichen with edge of a bracket fungus emerging in their midst.
The common name is powderhorn lichen, presumably ascribed in the days when muzzle-loaded guns made powderhorns familiar items. They were made redundant by the adoption of breech-loaders in the early 19th century. I wonder what it would be called today?
Powderhorn lichen is common but not long ago there was a competition to come up with popular names for some endangered species only known by their scientific labels. The results were imaginative and the two rare lichens on the list have ended up being officially dubbed 'witches' whiskers' and 'pixie gowns'. You can see the full list here.
I didn't identify the bracket fungus.