Kate  Path to Enlichenment | Part I: Sweet Pixie Cups

Meet the mealy pixie cup lichen:

pixie cups moss rocks

As described in this well-written broadcast, these fairy-dust-coated miniature goblets do indeed look as though they were set on a table of bright green moss, waiting to have single raindrops fill the cups so they may be gulped down by tiny wood sprites.

mirror pixie cups

Each Cladonia chlorophaea (Flörke ex Sommerf.) Sprengel is created from a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Put simply, the fungi creates the structure, and the algae provides food through photosynthesis. Each granule of fairy dust, or soredia is made up of a few cells from each of the two organisms. The lichen are reproduced when the granules are spread, which can happen in a variety of ways: perhaps a strong wind, or a drop of water plunking into the cup & splashing onto the surrounding earth, or a passing deer trampling a patch of them.

More luscious pictures & thoughts:

All of these pictures were taken in different areas of Hum Hill. It's so much fun to explore these micro-worlds!

I love the different colour schemes that they find themselves in:

Lush greens pixie cups moss

Golden yellows pixie cups golden pixie cup yellow moss

Dull greys pixie cups log

And this underwater-esque scene: pixie cups lichen So many surrounding mosses and other types of lichen I have yet to identify!

You could say I'm on the path to enlichenment...

Stay tuned for Part II!