Lichen is made up of a combination of organisms. All lichens include a fungus plus an algae and/or a photosynthesizing bacteria in a symbiotic relationship. Lichens are plant like, but not technically plants. Lichens cling to plants, rocks, logs or soil, but they are not parasitic. Because of their unique nature, they create their own food from sunlight, air, water and minerals.
A common form of lichen in Coastal BC is Reindeer Lichen. There are many different varieties ranging in size and colour. The Reindeer Lichen on our granite cliff if off-white, erect and forms flowing mats, especially at this time of year. I'm not sure which variety I have, but I think it might be Cladonia rangiferina.
When winds and rains are heavy, clumps of Reindeer Lichen break free and wind up on the stairs or water. I pick it up to use as mulch. In winter, it gives by decorative plants some protection from frost. In summer, it helps hold in moisture during dry weather. Besides it's mulching properties, it's gives the cliff lots of bright contrasting colour during the gray winter months. -- Margy