From my reading I’ve discovered that these cup lichen – Cladonia, by name – are what reindeer and caribou like to eat most. Well, I did see a jolly looking man wearing a bright red jacket walk past just before I took these photos, but I doubt there’s enough Cladonia in my local park to keep Santa’s sleigh-pullers going for more than a kilometre of their round-the-world trip in December, so I don’t think he was Father Christmas looking for potential refuelling stops!
I don’t know exactly which species of Cladonia I’ve found (and I haven’t yet waded through the 42-page key I downloaded!) and it seems you need a certain level of scientific vocabulary to determine this anyway (the first 5 pages of the key are devoted to a glossary of terms!) but I love the common names many of them have: Pixie cup lichen and Red-fruited pixie cup, Lipstick powderhorn, Trumpet lichen and Felt horn lichen, Dragon lichen, Wand lichen and British soldiers. The references to the colour red and to lipstick are due to the red-coloured fruit that appear on top of their goblet-shaped stalks (podetia). Unfortunately, there is only the merest hint of red in the photo above but, if I do manage to see them in full fruiting display, I’ll post another blog to show you.