Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lichens on rocks

with 34 comments

At Palmetto State Park on January 29th I took pictures of colorful lichens on rocks.

And here’s a thought for today:
The sincerity of someone’s delusion doesn’t make it any less a delusion. — S.S.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2021 at 4:32 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Looks like abstract art. Excellent photos.


    February 8, 2021 at 4:58 AM

  2. Beautiful! I love photographing those, have quite a collection.

    Alessandra Chaves

    February 8, 2021 at 6:53 AM

  3. Your quote is appropriate for the profound levels of delusion in the USA.


    February 8, 2021 at 7:10 AM

  4. Now for the hard part – how do you pronounce lichen?

    Jason Frels

    February 8, 2021 at 8:16 AM

    • Apparently some Britons pronounce the second syllable like chin, but over here the ch as a k is standard in lichen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2021 at 8:32 AM

      • Lye-kin, Li-kin, Lye-chin Li-chin. Off the cuff, I would probably pronounce it Lye-kin.

        Jason Frels

        February 8, 2021 at 9:04 AM

        • I’ve almost always heard it as pronounced by clicking the little speaker icon in this dictionary entry:


          My guess is that pronunciations with the ch as in English chin arose when English speakers unfamiliar with the word lichen first saw it in writing and, not knowing its Greek origin, pronounced the ch the way it normally is in English. The original sound, represented by the Greek letter ꭓ, doesn’t exist in our language. English regularly spells it ch and pronounces it k, as in words of Greek origin like architect, psychology, chaos, cholera, and chasm (the last of which I recently heard someone on television mispronounce with an English-style ch).

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 8, 2021 at 9:34 AM

          • When it comes to spelling, English is basically a lawless language.

            Jason Frels

            February 8, 2021 at 9:41 AM

            • I’m glad I learned word spellings as a kid because as an adult it would be daunting.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 8, 2021 at 12:22 PM

              • If not for spellcheck all over the place, my writing would be nearly incoherent.

                Jason Frels

                February 8, 2021 at 1:34 PM

                • For me, spellcheck is mainly useful in catching typos, as I’m not a great typist.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 8, 2021 at 2:12 PM

      • This Brit says lye-ken 😁


        February 8, 2021 at 12:21 PM

  5. There is beauty in the most primitive life forms.

    Peter Klopp

    February 8, 2021 at 8:38 AM

  6. Lichen is a favorite find on my hikes and walks. You’ve captured some beautiful colors!


    February 8, 2021 at 9:08 AM

    • Thanks. I imagine you think at least partly of the fact that your deer eat lichens. I eat them up photographically.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2021 at 9:12 AM

  7. Wow, these are gorgeous!

    Eliza Waters

    February 8, 2021 at 7:33 PM

  8. Those are beautiful, colorful lichens, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    February 8, 2021 at 10:00 PM

  9. You confirmed what I suspected with your comment to Michael. Self-quoting’s allowed, when the insight’s a good one. As for the lichens, I’ve never seen such sunny ones. If yellow ones have been tucked in here and there, I’ve not noticed them: green, gray, orange, and black seem more common. I found some truly tiny ones, about the size of a pinhead, growing on the wood of a boat’s swim platform yesterday. Apparently they’ll set up shop anywhere.


    February 10, 2021 at 7:10 AM

    • The psych wards are full of people who are sure aliens are controlling their brain or other equally far-fetched things. The problem is that plenty of people outside mental hospitals have delusions these days and they expect the rest of the world to treat them as reality and rearrange their lives accordingly. In addition, there are cynical people who know those delusions aren’t real yet still put them forth as reality and demand that everyone else treat them as if they were real. Didn’t someone make up a fable along those lines, something about an emperor and his clothing?

      As for lichens, yes, they seem willing and able to form almost anywhere. I wonder what a microscope would reveal about the pinhead-sized ones you found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2021 at 7:22 AM

      • Amazingly, those tiny lichens refused to be plucked up. They’re hanging on tight. I think they might be akin to these. There are a lot of oaks in the landscape that are hosting similar lichens.


        February 10, 2021 at 7:36 AM

        • The kind of lichen in your linked picture is pretty common in Austin, too. I did some quick searching for the strength of lichen attachment; I didn’t find anything about that but did come across this: “[lichens] can even live inside solid rock, growing between the grains.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2021 at 7:51 AM

      • As for the emperor: yes. I was tempted to provide an example of the delusions you mentioned, but I managed to restrain myself.


        February 10, 2021 at 7:40 AM

        • “Portraits of Wildflowers” has always been about nature, and it still is mostly that. However, culture and politics have gotten so far out of whack in the past year that I’ve felt I had to start alluding to the dangers.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2021 at 7:54 AM

  10. A couple of wonderful crops, in both senses of the word. I find myself drawn to their variety and individuality–and their photogenic qualities–with each new encounter.


    February 11, 2021 at 1:30 AM

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