Take a Liking to Lichens!

lichensTake a close look at this photo. What you’re seeing on the branches of my apple tree are colonies of lichens. You may have noticed them in my latest video on spring pruning.

You might already be familiar with it, but there are many new gardeners and homeowners who see the lichens and are concerned that some sort of disease has attacked their tree or shrub. I’m here to tell you that they are nothing to worry about.

On lichen.com, they explain that “Lichens are composite, symbiotic (mutually beneficial) organisms made up from members of as many as three kingdoms.”

They’re usually comprised of fungus, algae and/or bacteria, and are not parasitic to the plant.

There are many different types, based on the host plants. You also commonly see lichens them on rocks as well as fence posts or other woody structures. I think they quite pretty and they particularly brighten up in color following a rainstorm.

According to a bulletin from the University of Minnesota Extension, “No management is necessary or should be done to reduce the presence of lichens on a tree or shrub. In fact, finding lichens on a tree or shrub in your yard is a sign that the air surrounding the tree or shrub must be pure since lichens will not grow in areas with a smoky or polluted environment.”

So, if you see lichens on your trees and shrubs, it’s OK!