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What Everyone Should Know About Lichens

  • Bellevue Botanical Garden, Aaron Education Center 12001 Main Street Bellevue, WA, 98005 United States (map)

Lichens are a vital yet overlooked part of our forests ecosystems and rural environments. Lichens can tell us much about the air quality of our local surroundings. The US Forest Service has used lichens to monitor forest health and pollution. Lichens, along with bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and algae, are currently being studied for their contribution to soil conditioning and stability in rangeland areas. Lichens, as symbiotic organisms, play a major role in nitrogen and carbon fixation as well as mineral cycling. The ecological study of lichens is becoming more essential in our understanding of how to manage terrestrial ecosystems. Lichens also produce chemicals that were used for centuries as medicines, dyes, and perfumes. Dr. Katherine Glew will discuss common lichens to facilitate our understanding of what they can tell us about the health of our environment and how they are used as indicators of clean air.