Stickpins

 

This year when photographing old wood like stumps, barn sides, and fence-posts I noticed tiny bristles on the wood surface. These bristles are about one or two millimeters tall and dark black with a round top. My first thought was these were a fungus. That turned out to be correct but they are more than just a fungus. They are lichenized fungi called stickpin, stubble, or whisker lichens. The latest ones I found are on an old pine stump but I have found them on very old weathered pine boards and cedar fence posts. I have also seen them on weathered black spruce snags.

Stickpin lichens are classed in the lichen family Caliciaceae which has about 21 genera. The genera that include stickpin, stubble, and whisker lichens are Calicium, Chaenotheca, Chaenothecopsis, Mycocalicium, Phaeocalicium, Sphinctrina, and Stenocybe.

The stickpin lichens I found on this stump and other weathered wood are dark black. The algal photobiont is subsurface as no green crust or film could be seen. My best guess at this point is that they are probably species in the genus Calicium or Mycocalicium but I won’t know for sure until I collect some of these tiny lichens and look more closely under a microscope.

Almost everyday I am finding new lichens and other fungi on my property. Even an old board like the one shown below can host an array of lichens. I know that I will never be able to find or identify them all but I will try to photograph, document and identify as many as I can.

 

lichens on weathered wood
This piece of weathered pine wood on the side of a barn measures about six by three inches but hosts thirteen species of lichens. Stickpin lichens grow in gaps between the boards where the humidity is higher.

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