British Soldiers Lichen – Cladonia cristatella

British Soldiers Lichen – Cladonia cristatella

Technically, it’s not a plant – it’s a composite organism.
They are made up of both a fungus (which gives it structure) and an algae (which produces food):
the fungus is Cladonia cristatella and the algae is Trebouxia erici.

They get their common name from uniforms British soldiers wore during the Revolutionary War.
The bright red caps on the end of the thallus don’t form until the organism is at least 4 years old. They are extremely slow growing (1-2 millimeters a year). Those red caps contain the spores.
Many different types of insects and spiders can be found using the lichen as shelter.
The humans have use British Soldiers to make a pink dye for cloth or yarn.


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