Asked by: Leonilo Sporlein
asked in category: General Last Updated: 7th May, 2020

What causes lichen to grow?

Lichens on trees are a unique organism because they are actually a symbiotic relationship between two organisms — fungus and algae. The fungus grows on the tree and can collect moisture, which the algae needs. The algae, in return, can create food from the energy of the sun, which feeds the fungus.

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Correspondingly, what do lichens need to grow?

Just like all living things, lichens need nutrients to survive and grow. The main nutrients include nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Nitrogen is especially important since it is necessary for the production of proteins and organic acids, and not just for lichens, but for life on this planet.

Furthermore, how long does it take lichen to grow? Lichens grow by extending their thallus outwards, from either its tips or edges. They grow very slowly, some species more slowly than others. Rates of growth can vary from 0.5mm per year to 500mm per year. Their slow growth rate equates with their long life.

Considering this, is lichen harmful to trees?

Lichen is rarely found on healthy, vigorous trees. Lichen loves sunlight and moisture, so it is often found in sunny, wet spots. To reiterate: the lichen is in no way harming your tree, but the presence of lichen may point to an unhealthy or dying tree (caused by other reasons, such as pests or disease).

What affects lichen growth?

Various factors influence the distribution of lichens and a few such factors are: climate (including aspects such as yearly temperature and rainfall patterns); pollution levels; physical factors such as surface texture or degree of shading of a substrate; substrate chemistry (e.g. whether it's alkaline or acidic).

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