Liking the Lichen
Finding big ragged pieces of Lungwort lichen in the Mossom Creek watershed reveals two things. One, it has been windy recently. Two, the air quality in the Lower Mainland is improving. Lobaria pulmonaria, like all lichens, is extremely sensitive to pollutants in the air. It used to be that I could not find such lichen specimens as these for my biology classes unless I went way out the Valley. But most of the refineries in the area have shut down now and we are burning cleaner fuel more efficiently in our vehicles.
Lobaria pulmonaria is aptly named because it truly looked like tissue from the lobes of the lungs. According to one of my favourite reference books, Pojar and MacKinnon’s Plants of Coastal British Columbia, it was an early medical practice to treat lung diseases with this lichen based on its resemblance to that part of the human anatomy.