Wolf Lichen

Topics: Lichen, Symbiosis, Fungus Pages: 5 (1452 words) Published: October 20, 2014

Wolf Lichen (Letharia vulpina)

Poisonous but also a healer. It is very abundant in Idaho but very scarce and hard to find in Scandinavia. Wolf Lichen is the name of this mysterious plant. It is one of many different types of lichen found in nature and varies in ways such as habitat, use, and appearance. Lichen is a slow-growing plant genus that is usually structured in a spindle or leaf like shape. Lichen is made up of two components; fungi and algae.(Hollinger, J. 2014) The Fungal aspect is present in that it contains Chitin in their cell walls, they produce hyphae, spore producing, it is multicellular, and that they feed on dead trees/plants . The algal component means they are eukaryotes, are able to photosynthesize, and they have specialized tissues.(Thomas-Zucker, J. 2012) In Wolf Lichen and dead/dying trees form by symbiotic relationships. Symbiosis describes a close interaction between two organisms that benefits/harm at least one of the organisms. Sometimes symbiotic relationships can be beneficial, but can be sometimes harmful. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial to one another, because if we did not have dead or dying plants we could never have Wolf Lichen(Hollinger, J. 2014). Wolf Lichen also produces its own food in order for it to survive. To do so, it goes through photosynthetic processes. Photosynthesis starts with trapping the sun's energy in the form of sugar. Then the Wolf Lichen stores the resulting sugar in cells to form glucose for quick growth. Photosynthesis represents the beauty of the chemical process that takes six water molecules from the roots and six carbon dioxide molecules from the air and creates one sugar molecule. If there was no such thing as photosynthesis there would be no life on earth as we know it. (scheidt, J., & Ocamb, C. 2014) Lichen are categorized into three different kingdoms, which are Kingdom Fungi, Kingdom Protista, and Kingdom Monera. One interesting fact about Wolf Lichen is they are able to shut down their metabolism during times when nutrition is scarce and also in freezing weather. Wolf Lichen typically grows less than a millimeter per year. There are a total of 287 different types of species of lichen of 68 genres, and a total of 8 different varieties in Idaho . According to recent research conducted by Dustin Shown, John Ariola, and Braidan Arrasmith on the Ph of lichen; Wolf Lichen, along with other lichen have a mean of approximately 4.81 on the Ph scale. This means that Wolf Lichen have an acidic compound (See figure 1 at presentation). (Thomas-Zucker, J. 2012) Wolf Lichen is also named Letharia. There are two types of Letharia (L.) that are not easily noticeable; L. vulpina and L. columbiana. These two species are very similar in many ways but also very different. L. vulpina is asexual and reproduces with soredia, while L. columbiana is sexual and does not reproduce with soredia. L. vulpina is the only lichen that is poisonous. (Hollinger, J. 2014) Soredia is a reproductive structure for lichens. Lichens can reproduce asexually and sexually. Soredia is a powdery substance composed of fungal hyphae that wraps around cyanobacteria. Fungal hyphae make up the basic body structure of lichen.(Conrad, J. 2005)

As Wolf Lichen can grow to the size of 1 cm. but can be as large as 12 cm. The branches are round and wrinkled when in very dry conditions. The color ranges from a light yellow-green to a dull yellow. It will not grow in freezing temperatures. However; frost does not kill it, it just stops growing. Once the weather is warmer the lichen will start growing and reproducing. Wolf Lichen is extremely sensitive to air pollution and will not grow in polluted areas. Wolf Lichen grows on dead trees and stumps. It grows more often on sunny sides of trees and rocks. It does not usually grow in coastal rain forests. (Conrad, J. 2005) In the past people have poisoned wolves and other animals with Wolf Lichen. Since the lichen is poisonous, it...

References: (1) AB, N. (2011, ). Gränslandet. WOLF LICHEN – THE BEAUTIFUL POISON. Retrieved July
27, 2014, from http://www.graenslandet.se/en/among-wolverines-and-wolf-lichen/wolf-
VULPINA. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://www.backyardnature.net/sierras
(3) Hollinger, J. (2014, January 15). Encyclopedia of Life - Animals - Plants - Pictures &
Encyclopedia of Life.Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://eol.org/pages/2858721/details
(4) scheidt, J., & Ocamb, C
Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://www.lichen.com/ bigpix/Lvulpina.html

(6) Thomas-Zucker, J. (2012, March 20). Sciences Every Topic. Every Angle 360. Wolf Lichen
Letharia Vulpina Pigment and Poison
Transportation. WSDOT - Ethnobotany - Lichens. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from
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