Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Field Trip for Lichens...@ Kim Williams Nature Area

A recent warm spell has melted early snows in spots at least at the lower elevations exposing many lichen species. An especially good place for finding these plants (and other wildlife) is the Kim Williams Nature Area (Missoulian Newspaper guide to Trail) along the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana. 
It may be the factors of trees and rock bordering the river that make this a productive site for discovery of lichen.

The trail, a former railway bed, is great as it directly borders the rock cliffs/talus slopes and conifer stands for excellent access. Lots of people recreate on this trail; a good safety feature when wildlife watching here. If you are geologically inclined precambrian and cambrian rock is exposed; note also the strandlines of Glacial Lake Missoula on the sides of Mount Jumbo looking north across the Clark Fork river. Another feature I really like is the 'seep' coming out of the rock cliff immediate to the trail:
Here are two lichen species (from the Cladonia genus) recorded here:
Cladonia cerviconis
Cladonia pyxidata
I encourage you to find these plants yourself, it is fun and will become addicting once your knowledge begins to build. Go forth and discover!