Northwest Lichenologists

severe case of lichen shock

  • 21 Aug 2018 12:28 PM
    Message # 6632618

    Check out an interesting article by Alastair Hotchkiss in the summer 2018 BLS Bulletin, from which:

    Clambering up towards a small waterfall, my eye line was suddenly met by a mossy oak trunk with vivid green patches of what I fairly quickly realized was the green algal morph of Sticta canariensis. I was beside myself with excitement. I’d never seen the green morph before, only in photographs (and in my dreams). It was scattered over approximately an area of 50x50cm on the oak trunk, and as my heart rate dramatically increased, I immediately swung the camera round and started photographing it. Almost forgetting I had company, I soon had to return to reality and attempt to explain the significance of this find to the [land] owner, who by that point was probably wondering why I was pacing about like a mad man, mumbling to myself about how amazing this was. The company of the landowner added extra surrealism to my ecstasy, and I tried my best to articulate why I was so excited. Although clearly pleased that something on his land had resulted in such a reaction in me, I think he was soon quite keen to keep walking. Upon turning around to leave the oak, an even more extraordinary sight emerged. About 10m further upslope, was a mossy rock face beside the waterfall with a strikingly large patch (about 100x50cm) of independent luscious green Sticta canariensis - and what was more, it was covered in abundant apothecia. Other smaller (10x10cm) patches were scattered nearby, and I had entered a lichenological nirvana. I found myself frozen on the spot repeating the word ‘unbelievable’ over and over…

    Upon recounting my psychological symptoms to Steve Chambers, he quickly diagnosed it as a severe case of ‘lichen shock’ and recalled a similar rush of endorphins at finding Usnea articulata recently, where he literally couldn’t move for a few minutes until he recovered his senses. I’ve just about recovered from this ‘lichen shock’ now, although even typing this account a couple of months later is resulting in a slight relapse.

    Shades of of Alfred Russel Wallace, The Malay Archipelago (1890):

    None but a naturalist can understand the intense excitement I experienced when I at length captured it [a hitherto unknown species of butterfly]. On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious wings, my heart began to beat, violently, the blood rushed to my head, and I felt much more like fainting than I have done when in apprehension of immediate death. I had a headache the rest of the day, so great was the excitement produced by what will appear to most people a very inadequate cause.

    Last modified: 21 Aug 2018 12:33 PM | Richard Droker
  • 29 Dec 2018 10:23 AM
    Reply # 6976299 on 6632618
    J P

    Thank you for sharing that story Richard!  My husband claims that under similar circumstances, I emit a high-pitched sound.  Clearly that cannot be the case as I am far to tough/cool/hip for any such noises...

     - Juliet

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