Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: still more things than the glacier at the glacier

with 15 comments

When we visited the Franz Josef Glacier on February 20th, my attention leapt not only to the glacier and nearby waterfalls, but to the many rocks in the area. In particular, lots of rocks were coated to varying degrees with a fine red-orange lichen, shown above, that made the stone surface it was on seem painted.

In many cases, as you see below, mosses vied with the reddish lichens for territory on the rocks.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 22, 2017 at 4:59 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

15 Responses

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  1. It’s good to visit the glacier again via your photos. I can trust you to notice all the lovely details.


    March 22, 2017 at 5:11 AM

  2. I’ve always associated lichens with more damp, temperate environments, but I see that’s not true. I wonder if your orange lichen is a variety of arctic lichen from the genus Xanthoria. There certainly are plenty of them, and they seem to be everywhere.

    It’s a nice, colorful accent to the landscape, that’s for sure. The first photo reminds me of a nicely baked piece of salmon on a bed of greens.


    March 22, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    • Your last sentence made me wonder if you were hungry as you wrote it.

      My impression is that lichens as a group can tolerate a huge range of climates. I’m reminded of the lichens I saw at Valley of Fire in Nevada, which gets only a few inches of rain a year. Contrast that with the red lichens shown here in one of the rainiest regions on earth. Whether an individual species of lichen can handle both extremes, I don’t know. Lichens probably specialize in the same way that plants do.

      The article about New Zealand lichens at
      notes that the “rust-coloured Placopsis lateritioides is also at home on alpine rocks, where it forms tough crusts.” I looked a bit but didn’t find a photograph to compare “my” reddish lichen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM

  3. that second image almost looks like an aerial view of a landscape farrrrrrrrrr below!

  4. Good morning, Steve, what a lovely specimen. Nature paints with an amazing pallet doesn’t she?

    I looked at your rock and thought, what a pretty color. Then I imagined that had I been there I might have put it into my pocket. (I have an extensive collection of *Leverites.) On noticing more detail from your photograph I realized it probably wouldn’t have even fit into my suitcase.

    *Leverite: Stones of an interesting shape or color that a true collector would advise, “You should leave’r right there.”


    March 23, 2017 at 5:48 AM

    • Good morning, Lynda. You can’t tell the scale of the rocks in the pictures, but these two were way too large and heavy for you to have put them in any pocket smaller than one designed for a beast of burden. We did, however, bring back some appealing (but not red) rocks that were small enough for our pockets. We’ve added them to the different-looking ones we brought back from the first visit to New Zealand.

      Thanks for the introduction to the term leverite. I found this:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 23, 2017 at 7:06 AM

      • Too funny! I had never heard the term until my friend in California introduced me to it over 40 years ago. I actually thought she had made it up. So it must be a rock hound term from way back. 😉


        March 23, 2017 at 2:40 PM

  5. Lichens are fascinating inhabitants. Such a variety in form and color.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 25, 2017 at 4:08 PM

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